The Ultimate Bianco Guide To: Anime
If you do not know anything about Anime you should keep reading and finally begin to watch all of the greatness you have been missing over the last thirty years (you ignorant fool). If you already know what’s good you can probably skip the first couple of names on the list, as they’re the most famous. But keep reading and you might find some that you haven’t heard of, that are definitely worth checking out. (I’m sure there’s a lot missing from this list that are still good!)
So anyway, this list will introduce you to the fine art of Japanese storytelling. There are basically no limits at all, from realistic stories to out of this world crazy animations, these people came up with some crazy shit (luckily). Anime has it all.
For something so creative and interesting, a lot of people still don’t know, respect, love and watch anime on the regular. Time for a change.
“Yes we can” – Adrian Bianco
After watching at least two picks from this list, your perception will change and you will love me forever. Trust me.
*It’s important to watch these in Japanese with English subs, don’t try to watch them in English, never (never ever).
If we’re kicking this list off properly, Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli cannot go unmentioned. In the worldwide league of Anime, these two names would be the reigning heavyweight champions. One of their most popular anime is called Spirited Away and it is one of the reasons I have so much love for anime. Even though this might look like a children’s movie to you (it is) because of its colourful animation and childish style, part Spirited Away’s (and Miyazaki’s) magic is that the storytelling and inventive characters cast a 90 minute spell on you no matter what your age. It’s basically a fucking masterpiece. A lovely story that’s a wild ride into the world of Japan’s millions of gods, shrines and tales. You will love it.
Ghost In The Shell
So even tho we started this list with some colour and playfulness, it’s time now for some grown up Neo-Tokyo vibes. Let’s talk about Ghost, it’s still the most visually perfect representation of Neo-Tokyo I can find. A highly complicated, deep and relevant story featuring A.I, cyborgs, the human soul, all set in the tech city of your dreams. Ghost in the Shell is a Tokyo dream dipped into blue colour, big guns and bad ass characters.
Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 1st & 2nd gig
There are so many Ghost in the Shell fans out there who haven’t watched a single episode of its very own series. Stand Alone Complex is a really nice addition to the family that keeps the original vibe and even adds some new and enjoyable stuff to the original set up. If you can’t get enough of Major Kusanagi, this is perfect for you.
Grave of the Fireflies
This is a tearjerker. You will cry watching this so maybe hide in your room when you watch it, if you don’t want to show your feelings in front of other people. Grave of the Fireflies is a war drama that tells the story of two Japanese siblings during the last month of WWII, in a way that you won’t easily forget. It’s another Ghibli movie that represents the flexibility of Anime. There is no magic, ghosts or dragons in this film, it’s realistic, and proves that realistic movies don’t just have to be live action, they can be drawn. The story, characters and all the feelings of the movie are that good that I actually can never watch it again as it kicked me right in the heart and every tear my eyes could produce was choked out.
Another masterpiece and another Ghibli production. Mononoke is a picture perfect depiction of the clash between Japan’s industrial area, and the countries deep connection with nature, ghosts and spirits. Unstoppable will and inventive spirit are paired with a religious love of nature to create a story in which the gods of the forest fight the humans destroying its resources. The movie is Pochahontas going Sayajin, from this point on you can start to really forget about Disney.
The Garden of Words
The Garden of Words is a photo realistic visual guide like you have never seen before. From the hard streets of Shinjuku to the beautiful Shinjuku National Garden, everything you see looks exactly the same as it does in the real world. If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, this movie will easily take you back to every stunning sensation and feeling the unknown jungle gave you. At the same time you are going to find yourself engaged in a genre that you probably haven’t seen before. This kinda romantic-drama short movie is a story about two characters and their feelings towards life and emotions. What Anime does, is kill all the stereotypes you are used to when watching real life romantic-drama movies and sugar coats it in Japanese vibes. At the end of the day you will start watching a fucking love story. It’s arty, short and a teenage drama but it still kills it.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Have you always wondered why Japanese people are in love with giant fighting robots? Watch this series and you will understand why. Don’t picture power rangers and their clumsy, strange fighting robots (I’m sorry, I still love you) this story is way deeper than just colourful suits, laser beams and digital screens, Evangelion is the mother of all mecha animes. The characters are iconic and the story telling is twisted. What’s the best thing about this? The fact that there’s 4 movie remakes of the 26-episode series that totally kicks ass and tells the story in a smart condensed way.
Tekkonkinkreet looks like a Disney movie on crack. Crazy colourful but a whole lot darker, this film tells the story of two street kids on their own. Evil forces, old Yakuza, romantic police officers and crazy assassins all mix to make this movie a one of a kind lunatic ride into the mind and lives of two social outcasts. I really (I mean really) do love this movie, and you should too.
A group of people are resurrected from death by a mysterious black ball named ‘GANTZ’, to combat alien criminals hiding on Earth, yeah… that’s what Gantz is about.
So Gantz has got it all, a whole lotta violence, sex, guns and dark humour, it’s like Battle Royale (watch it) but on a perverted alien anime level. On top of all that crazy shit, the series is just two seasons long and has a really strong story, so you get a great series without having to force yourself into Game-of-Throne/Heisenber your half of your life into watching it. There is also a pretty good 3DCG movie called GANTZ: O on Netflix right now that you should definitely check out after watching this.
Death Note is one of the best crime stories you are ever going to watch. And even though it’s all about death gods, super powers, a psychotic kid and Japanese pop stars (in short skirts) you can’t deny when you watch it that you are witnessing the true power of Japanese storytelling. The way the two main characters play mind games and majorly manipulate each other will blow your mind. The only thing you need to do with this one is give it a fucking try.
Terror in Resonance
Terror in Resonance again is a series that only takes one season to tell you one of the best crime stories ever. This time without any super powers or supernatural stuff. Tokyo has been hit by terror attacks and the gang behind the attacks are the central characters. The story is so good that I don’t want to spoil any further details. 11 episodes and you will both thank me, and want more.
Pom Poko is another Ghibli movie (trust me, they make some good shit) and it’s one of the craziest. The movie is all about shape shifting raccoons (yes) that try to fight against the bulldozers of greedy land developers, to save their forest. It really goes mad at some stages and you won’t regret a minute of watching this crazy and lovable shit.
Perfect Blue is like an Alfred Hitchcock story turned into a psychological, Anime thriller. It takes a little bit of time to get started, but when it does it gets weird and fucks up your mind (in a lovely way). It’s great, watch it.
Porco Rosso is the last Ghibli movie in this list, almost all of their titles deserve a place really, and you should check them all out anyway, but Porco will always be one of my favourites. The main characters is a gentleman who loves women, food and wine (and he also happens to be a pig, yes a pig) and he spends the movie fighting sky pirates whilst still being a loveable and lonely bastard. It’s a story men can relate to (or at least want to relate to) so first of all watch it, then become Porco Rosso. Simple as that.
Hotarubi no Mori e
Remember when I told you that Anime makes you want to watch genres and stories you would never get into after reading the short description on the back of a DVD? Hotarubi no Mori e is definitely one of these. This short story is a romantic drama about love, ghosts and growing up. Yes it’s teenage, and yes I love it.
Your Name just became the most successful Anime of all time, so yeah the movie is good. A pretty entertaining approach to the body swap story you have seen in a couple of bad, cheesy American movies before (except Face Off, of course). The Japanese contrast between rural life and city life gives this one a special twist. It’s good entertainment and it’s not that deep. Perfect for a Sunday.
The Boy and the Beast
This movie is probably the most Disney Anime I have ever watched. It’s really not too deep and plays around with all the stereotypical story points we know and love from Disney movies: friendship, love, father figures and outcasts. It’s still a good movie though.
Ergo Proxy is a dark and sad vision of the future, and presents a reality that you really don’t want to live in. This futuristic sci-fi series shows us a world where humans and androids co-exist, which seems fine until the moment some of the robots start fucking up and committing mysterious murders. There are a lot of philosophical aspects in this one, and the story will remind you of Ghost in the Shell. Plus the dark mixture of 2D and 3D animation aesthetics will please your eyes.
Another great movie that fuses Japanese country life with technology, Summer Wars is high tech, fast paced and has lovely characters. It will remind you a fucking lot of Digimon, and that’s because it’s basically a plot straight from one of the Digimon movies. Contrary to Digimon however the visuals are way cooler and the style is beautiful, it’s also a bit more grown up. In short, you’re gonna feel like way less of a child when you watch this.
Mushi-Shi is the calmest thing you’re ever going to watch. So if you’ve ever thought about drinking some lean and watching some anime, choose this one. The whole story is about a shaman that can sense and see all the little secret spirits and energy running through our world. Sometimes the spirits possess human beings and turn them into something new, dangerous or sick. That’s the part where this calm, cool bastard steps in to solve the problem. Calm as fuck and cool as fuck.
Samurai Champloo has a Nujabes soundtrack, it’s about two samurais and a young girl and it is literally full of fighting. It really can’t get better to be honest. This series is just straight up entertainment that still delivers a story you’re gonna want to stick with until the end.
Imagine Samurai Champloo in space with more Jazz and bigger tits. That’s basically Cowboy Bebop. Probably one of the most stylish Anime out there with an amazingly diverse collection of heroes and anti-heroes that you can fall in love with.
Genius Party is a lovely collection of wild, crazy, artsy and beautiful anime short stories. Simple as that, just watch it.
Hunter X Hunter
Yes there is One Piece and Dragonball and yes they are fucking awesome. Still, I’m pretty sure everybody actually knows about them already. So (!) if you love those two you’re going to fucking love Hunter X Hunter. This series is one of the best things I’ve gotten into lately. The characters, the story, the side story, the whole fucking vibe is just great. It is super refreshing to watch a bunch of heroes that are far away from being the strongest movers on the dance floor. Plus after Dragonball and Vegeta, this anime has one of my favourite villains of all time in it. The bad never looked so good! Hunter X Hunter is life.
One Punch Man
One Punch Man is the hero the world has been waiting for, but didn’t previously know about. In a time where almost every story has been told before, this Anime takes a totally different approach and does everything right. One punch is all the hero needs to kill an enemy, his face is always calm and his life is always awkward (awkward af, trust Bianco) A dead on the inside hero, for a dead on the inside generation. One Punch Man is a perfect fit.
Golden Boy is the heroic tale of a young boy fighting his way through a lot of ass and tits. It’s always funny, and there’s a lot of sex. I fucking love it. Simple as that.
Welcome to the NHK
A hikikomori is a Japanese social outcast that locks himself in his room to dive deep into the world of online gaming, manga, hentai and Anime. They shut themselves down from society and lose their connections with other humans by not interacting with them. Tatsuhiro Satou is one of them and the whole story is about him and his strange ways as he tries to come back to normal life. Its super weird, lovely and 100% Japanese. Not that easy to get into but a fucking plus to your brain if you make it to the end.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
If your friend described this story you, you would laugh straight at him. Another great example of “Japanese Anime made me do it”. A girl acquires the power to travel back through time and starts fucking around with other people’s lives. It’s a teenage summer love story and you’re going to dig it.
Godfathers of Tokyo
Godfathers of Tokyo reminds me of Home Alone: Lost in New York. Even tho there are no similarities at all, the whole vibe and feeling I got whilst watching three homeless people guiding a lost baby through Tokyo was almost the same. So what does that say about this movie? It’s an entertaining story, with lovely characters – a lot more real world violence, brutality and sadness.
Hellsing is the coolest motherfucker alive and if you like lots of blood, Tarantino like characters and loads of dark jokes, this vampire slaying vampire will be your best friend.
Fist of the North Star
Fist of the North Star is the OG Anime series, in which everything is cool, different and fucking OG. Its Max Max turned Japanese and stars a bad ass exaggerated hero who sends enemy after enemy into coffin after coffin, in the most enjoyable yet belly hurting kill technics ever put to screen. Sexy.
A Letter to Momo
A Letter to Momo tells the story of an 11-year old girl that has just left Tokyo (it’s the perfect setting for all these great stories) after the tragic death of her father. Together with her mother she moves to a small island and joins her grandparents. On the island she meets 3 spirits that only she can see, and man they’re both crazy and lovely. This movie is sweet, it really is.
Attack on the Titan
This is some extra cool shit. Attack on the Titan is an insane one, and has one of the weirdest, creepiest and fucking biggest enemies ever. It’s got a steam punk vibe that you’ve never seen before and you need to watch it.
My Neighbour Totoro
Ok I lied, there is another Ghibli movie, but I had to include it! It would have felt wrong to keep that big lovely fur monster out of this ultimate guide. Totoro is the feel good movie you always needed, and it will soothe your depressive soul at the end of your everyday struggle. Totoro is the dad you never had and the caring mother you always had. He’s the extra cold Coca-Cola next to your bed when you’re crazy hungover. It’s such a childish movie but you’re gonna love it.
Badass gangsters who kick, punch, slice and shoot other badass gangsters until almost everyone is dead. Amazing character design and a lovely story that justifies any beating you will witness. Motherfucking bad ass.
Detroit Metal City
Detroit Metal City is the best thing ever! Jesus, this story is so fucked up, but it’s also sexy, brutal and full of all that humour you love but have to keep to yourself (and that one friend who gets it). If there is one thing you take away from this list, please let it be this one. Give it 10 minutes and if you don’t love it, rethink your life. Even if you don’t dig the trailer, you need to try the whole thing, ignorant fool!
Mob Psycho 100
A middle school boy tries to have a normal fucking life but has debilitating psychological powers, lovely. This series is by the same genius that made One Punch Man. It’s weird, 100% Japanese, very weird and very 100% Japanese. Watch it.
Hmm… everybody loves Akira and praises it to the highest level of perfection, the storytelling and this insane look and fell are ground breaking. I mean, come on, even Kanye loves it. Do you need to know more?
Personally I found it a little bit difficult to get into, and I haven’t quite fallen in love with it fully, but I understand how important this one is to Anime, for a whole generation of blah blah blah. Watch it and tell me what an ignorant fool I am, because I love you.
Things I didn’t mention
…because they were either too obvious, too good, too old, too long, too childish, too bad, too awkward to mention or too sexy:
One Piece (it’s too good, too obvious, too fucking awesome but I fucking love you One Piece); Dragonball (BFF’s forever); Visions of Escaflowne, every other Ghibli movie; Shin Chan; Lupinthe 3rd; Paprika (weird, very weird); Parasyte (so many good people told me about this but I haven’t had time to watch it, yet); JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure; Monster Rancher (awkward), Detective Conan, Inuyasha, Afro Samurai, Ajin, Jin-Roh, Elfenlied, Code Geas, Monster, Tokyo Ghoul, Bleach, Berserk and a million titles more. Anime is life. Get it.