Jesus, is there any good anime out there?

I know everybody develops their own taste in art. Among anime nerds, it’s no different. The thing is, I don’t know if I’m really much of an anime guy. I find the vast majority of it to be reformulations of the “how are we going to use our powers this week” variety. Though there are exceptions, I don’t tend to like the comedies – and never the romances. I like the artsy-fartsy stuff, and I crave more of it.

Cat Soup (full)

This is my all time favorite. It’s a nearly wordless 30 minutes. It features a cat fighting a psychedelic war against everything from wizards, gods, time, and even death itself. Here it is in full:

By the time the 10 minute mark rolls around, Cat Soup begins to completely shift gears frequently. The whole thing is beautiful, and I’ve only seen a few animated shorts impress me this much.

Logorama (full)

This won an Oscar. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was challenged in court several times.

I Married A Strange Person (excerpt)

This is Bill Plympton’s 1997 break-through. Most of his stuff is worth checking out. This is a short excerpt, and the whole movie is an absurd adventure. The plot revolves around the powers that a guy suddenly got when a satellite accidentally bounced a strange signal off the back of his neck.

Rejected Family Learning Channel Advertisements (full)

Don Herztfeldt’s animation is wild and often immature. The way this thing wraps all the ‘rejected’ shorts together at the end proves that there is something beyond the idiocy of Happy Tree Friends (‘look it’s funny because it’s cute critters being violent’ – boring!)

Please help!

I’m looking for animation / anime along these lines. Suggest anything, really. If you suggest something I don’t like, I promise not to be butt-hurt

don hertzfelt my anus is bleeding rejected

Here’s a few other Japanese titles that I loved: FLCL, Tamala: A Punk Cat In Space, 7 Samurai, Serial Experiments: Lain, Summer Wars, Dead Leaves, Spring and Chaos, Howl’s Moving Castle (though I’ve seen all the Studio Ghibli stuff, most of it good or great.)

I have access to fansubs of series not released in the States, so anything goes. Some of the Army barracks rats do nothing but watch anime. I just have a hard time sorting through the numerous Japanese language titles (spelled out in English). Every time I try to describe great series like Lain, I’ll get a superficially similar suggestion from them like Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex (less art more Matrix).

Though not really the art-damaged stuff I’m looking for, I’d appreciate stuff like this too: Elfen Lied, Neon-Genesis Evangelion, Berserk (“Griffith!”), Puni Puni Poemi / Excel Saga. Shit, even Cowboy Bebop had its moments. So I’m not too elitist.

By the way, the thing that inspired me to write this post was a recent drive-by comment from somebody named ‘CrzyBiblenerd’ on an old blog post. The post was about a weird Jesus Manga I was given when I was last deployed. It’s the same shit they brainwash kids with in Uganda! I think I handled the drive-by guy pretty well.

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  • Joe Schoeler

    I loved Paranoia Agent. It’s like a murder mystery / supernatural psychological horror.

  • You didn’t mention Fullmetal Alchemist? I found the most surreal thing about that is they decided to re-do the entire series to be closer to the manga! I watched both and they strangely seemed to stand on their own.

    Spice and Wolf is a bit like Elfen Lied in that there is obviously fan-service in there (600-yr old alcoholic wolf spirit with a teenage girls body) but the story and characters are brilliantly done.

    Planetes for the sci-fi done right angle, Stanley Kubrick would approve of that one. Darker than Black has a really good feel, surreal and dark.

    Low-brow stuff I liked would be Claymore (Execrable last couple of episodes), Twelve kingdoms if you can stand the whiny female character trope in the first few episodes – she does change. Anything with Rupan Sansei in is fine by me! Although the Ghibli English dub of Castle of Cagliostro makes Goemon and Jigen look like lackeys when in the series they are rather more rounded characters. The latest BDSM re-boot of Lupin was a bit weird but I suppose things need to evolve and you cannot dislike an episode with a lot of Fujiko Mine in it!

    Stuff nearer to cat soup, you’d probably like The Eternal Family… Paprika is good and an anime version of Inception, but better, pretty weird at times.

    I may watch Haibane Renmei next, meant to be good. Looking forward to other peoples recommendations as your taste looks close to mine and given I don’t have much time to watch a lot of anime I like to make sure I get good stuff to watch.

    • Fullmetal series are precisely the ‘how are we going to use our powers this week’ shows for kids that I hate. Inu Yasha, DBZ, Sailor Moon, Fullmetal, Rirouni Kenshin, etc… it’s all the same. Putting a few swear words and / or more intense violence alone doesn’t improve the situation.

      Planetes, Paprika = perfect examples of what I’m looking for. They didn’t make my ‘best ever’ list, but were most certainly worth watching.

      Thanks for suggesting The Eternal Family, Spice and Wolf, and Twelve Kingdoms. Will check into Rupan Sansai (is that an artist / director? I don’t care about voice actors too much.)

      Darker than Black had potential. It had powers etc, but it wasn’t about electricity vs. water, it was about maniacs and irony. That last episode was awful though. Ruined it. Stopped watching claymore a few eps in. May give it one more shot. Haibane Renmei bored me to death and I never made it out of the second episode.

  • Makoto

    Spice and Wolf is interesting/different, given its basis of economics, rather than powers of the week. I enjoyed it, but it also falls into a formulatic routine. The added romance elements may turn you off, especially by the end of the second season, but it’s still fairly minor compared to the main storylines.

    I think your interests are somewhat orthogonal to mine, since I use romance/comedy animes as stress relief some days, but let’s see.. Voices of a Distant Star, perhaps, or Saikano? I find those too sad to watch more than once a decade, but they’ve got some powerful moments. Stein’s Gate may be worth looking into, even though it’s more on the silly side. Black Lagoon, if you want the “good” guys to be pretty bad. Puella Magi Magica Madoka is an evil twist on the magical girl genre, but you have to get past the first few sweet episodes to start seeing just how different it is. Code Geass, maybe? It’s serious, but also has power issues – that’s part of the plot in this case.

    You might try the Kenshin OVAs, titled as Samurai X. More movie-ish, less powers of the week.

    For full-on gorefest, I’d suggest Dead Man Wonderland. It’s somewhat akin to Elfen Lied, in a prison setting with underground tournaments.

    Need to hunt through some of my lists, I know there are better suggestions…

  • Po(p)e

    Two artsy film suggestions: Angel’s Egg and Mind Game.

    I would also suggest Cat Shit One just for laughs. It’s not artsy, but it might be a hit with the military crowd.

  • F [disappearing]

    Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, FLCL, Casshern Sins (was strangely OK), I dunno, I forget. Also depends on what one considers to be “animé. Oh, Samurai Jack, although not Japanese, as it is weird, amusing, and very visual. Samurai Champloo. Ghost in the Shell.

    You looking specifically for Japanese anime&e acute; or what? I could probably jog my memory further with an internet search. I’m not a fan of the genre, I just enjoy certain works. (And don’t miss The Venture Brothers.)

  • Adam

    Try Samauri Champloo, though it has a large comedy element its art and music style is wonderful and its overarching story is pretty good as well.

  • jose .

    How about… Grave of the Fireflies.

  • edivimo

    I recommend you an OVA with awful animation, low pace, simple title, but great history and great “deepness”: Legend of the galactic heroes. Is about an interstellar war… and war is hell. Is horribly long: 110 episodes, without counting prequels, you must be very comited to see it. You can see it here.

  • Jesse M.

    These do not match the descriptons of what you like or what you dislike, and two are movies instead of series, but you might like them: Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies (trigger warning: sad story revolving around WW2), Hanasaku Iroha (“The ABCs of Blooming”), and Ikoku Meiro no Croisée (“The Crossroads of a Foreign Maze”).

  • Kelseigh Nieforth

    Have you ever looked at some of the short films that Studio 4C did, like Digital Juice? They fit nicely into the intersection of quirky and artsy.

    If you’re willing to try something more on the slice of life side, try Hourou Musuko, which is a surprisingly realistic take on transgender kids. The manga goes way more in-depth with it of course, but the director of the anime version does a steller job with it.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Judging from you liking Berserk, I gather that you don’t mind tragic anime. On that account, I’d suggest Texhnolyze, which, like Serial Experiments Lain, is a Yoshitoshi ABe series. Another anime that is about as dark as Texhnolyze is Gilgamesh. I haven’t seen a Wolf’s Rain recommendation, so I’ll add that to the list as well.

    Welcome to the N.H.K. may be good if you want some dark humor that makes fun of several anime cliches.

    If you don’t mind something that is unabashedly “girly”, you might try Revolutionary Girl Utena. There is formula to most of its episodes, but there is also a lot of playing with gender roles, character development, and the mindfuckery rises as the series goes on. If you want a far more concentration of artsy, indulgent mindfuckery at the cost of a cohesive story, you can try out the movie version of Utena as well.

    I do have a bone to pick with this, though:

    Fullmetal series are precisely the ‘how are we going to use our powers this week’ shows for kids that I hate. Inu Yasha, DBZ, Sailor Moon, Fullmetal [Alchemist], Rirouni Kenshin, etc… it’s all the same.

    Lumping all those shows together is rather misleading. Yes, they are all based on either shonen or shojo manga — which are aimed at Japanese boys or girls, respectively — so it’s true enough to say that they are for kids. However, the writing quality of those shows varies drastically. Sailor Moon, for example, could easily be described as a series with mostly cardboard characters who seem to attract the monster of the week because the plot says so. Such a description would hardly fit Fullmetal Alchemist at all. You might as well have lumped in Superfriends and Batman: The Animated Series together and said that they were “all the same.”

    • @J.J. I appreciate the suggestions (and tons of great ones from others!)

      Saw you take issue with my ‘how are we going to use our powers this week’ generalization:

      You might as well have lumped in Superfriends and Batman: The Animated Series together and said that they were “all the same.”

      For me, I really would lump them together. They are all for kids. Perhaps one is more mature or updated, but in the end, I can’t watch either for the same reason. For American animation I’d watch Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, The Maxx, Aeon Flux, some of the stuff on Adult Swim, etc.

      I’m not trying to say that all kids stuff is inherently not for adults. It’s just my taste, and a general rule of thumb. Some of my personal exceptions include, most Studio Ghibli films, Up, Ren and Stimpy.

  • gworroll

    I’ll leave out the Studio Ghibli stuff, you’ve already seen it. That said, for Nausicaa, if you’ve only seen the old American release, “Warriors of the Wind”, go out and get the uncut version. You need Patrick Stewart on the voice cast, that’s the version you want to watch. Technically this is pre-Ghibli, but is often considered the dawn of the Ghibli era nonetheless.

    I like Robotech. I haven’t seen the originals, which apparently have all gotten more faithful translations, but the American version was still amazing.

    Armitage III is good.

    Code Geass is interesting.

    Gunsmith Cats: Bulletproof is amazing. It’s based on the manga by Kenichi Sonoda, but stands alone pretty well. The one complaint I have is that Rally is supposed to look Indian, not white. This is an actual plot point a few times in the manga, it’s not a purely visual thing. She’s not the lightest skinned character in the anime, but she’s far lighter than she should be. Unfortunately, it’s just a three episode OVA series, so just past an hour of content. Still very good.

    Avoid Battle Angel. The reason I’m not too worried about the live action/CGI/whatever Battle Angel movie that’s supposed to be in development is that I’ve seen this anime, so the new film coming up has a very low bar to meet for me. The manga, on the other hand, is amazing. The anime, one of if not the worst adaptation to a new medium that I’ve ever seen.

    Perfect Blue is a crazy “what the hell is going on” story.

  • I know what you mean about “FullMetal”, but for some reason I liked it 🙂

    Kids stuff! Ponyo and Totoro are the best Ghibli films! Totoro winning that battle of the best… My three year old daughter will watch Totoro in Japanese any day of the week. She just tells me to be quiet if I tell her what they are saying, definitely a film that speaks to the child in you.

    Rupan Sansei is Lupin the Third… He of Castle of Cagliostro… More “kids stuff” I suppose and not that surreal or art house to say the least. But great fun!

  • Brad

    Batman of shanghai is pretty good, but it’s pretty short.

  • mal099

    I have two suggestions. First would be “Death Note”. Basically, A young man gets the power to kill anyone by merely writing his name and starts using this power to erase crime and become a god-like figure. This causes the police to come after him and try to bring him down.

    Second would be “Monster”. A doctor saves a little boy at a high personal cost, but the boy later turns out to be a psychopathic killer, causing the doctor to spend the rest of the series to try to hunt him down in order to stop the killings.

  • I love Scrapped Princess. It may be hard to find (it’s kinda old at this point) but it’s a seriously awesome story. You may be unhappy with some of it, but I got hooked right out.

    Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is pretty good – although there are a few disappointments (the last episode of Season 1 has about five minutes of interesting stuff happening – all of it at the end, and they repeat the same episode eight times with minor differences in Season 2 (watch the first and last of the repeats and you’ll get enough information about the other six.)

    I also liked Gundam Wing – I know, how mainstream can I get.

    Fate/Stay Night is another really good series with a good story you’ll probably not like.

    Two comedies I also liked were Azumanga Daioh (a slice-of-life about high school girls that leaves me both really confused and laughing my arse off) and Ouran High School Host Club (although a girl’s romance, it basically is making fun of all girl’s romance stories in the most hilarious way.)

  • b timothycreel

    May I suggest an OVA from Yasuhiro Yoshiura called Pale Cocoon (AKA Aoi Tamago)?

  • Joven

    I’ll second the recommendation for Paranoia Agent.

    Also, I’d recommend Last Exile.

    And Baccano! which follows (or deftly meanders around) the story of the passengers of a train called the Flying Pussyfoot in the 30’s, theres murderers, mobsters, eccentric thieves, alchemists, immortals, etc. Pretty interesting, good characters, and even though theres immortals running around theres not really any powers (and its certainly not monster-of-the-week)

  • So far, I’ve watched the first eps / trailers for several of the selections here. I had already seen (and usually liked) many, and overall the suggestions were pretty spot-on. Last Exile, Grave of the Fireflies, and many others were great.

    So far my favorite suggestion is Steins;Gate.

    I am digging Code Geass, but find myself fast-forwarding through the interpersonal character development (not that I’m against such a thing, I just don’t think it pulls it off consistently). I like the insurgency stuff and the alt-history / Britainia stuff. I may digest this skipping over the bubbly character crap if I continue getting bored.

    I had just finished watching Deadman Wonderland, and it was good but not great. It was like Gantz, ‘awkward weird’ rather than ‘whimsical weird’, a bit forced with the farce. Worth watching, held my attention the whole time.

    Black Lagoon has a cool plot, but I haven’t started watching it. Same goes for The Eternal Family, Spice and Wolf, and Twelve Kingdoms. The rest I’ve either seen (thanks though!) or will come back to this thread in a few weeks / months to grab the later suggestions.

    Could not find Angel’s Egg or Mind Game, unfortunately.

    Thank you to whoever accidentally introduced me to a proper understanding of the term ‘shonen’. Now I know how to request more NON-SHONEN without sounding like a pretentious artsy fartsy guy. Whoohoo!

  • Joe Fatzen

    My current and most excited fixation is with a series called Space Brothers. As it’s still in its first full series arc in Japan and still being released weekly, you pretty much have to watch it on the service Crunchyroll. (At least until it gets picked up. Also, CR has it with free streaming, just at lower quality and with ads.) Which also means Japanese audio/English subtitles only, for now.

    The near-future story of two brothers–the younger inspired and dedicated and pursued his dream of becoming an astronaut and is on the cusp of a mission to the moon, and the older (series main character Mutta) having changed his course years before but wanting to try his hand at joining his brother at becoming an astronaut as well–is a funny, slow-paced, heartfelt, meaningful, and inspiring tour de force. It can go from goofy to introspective and melancholy to awe-inspiring over the course of a scene let alone an episode, and not make you feel abused or preached at, but carried along with.

    There is “hint of alien” from the very first episode, but 38 episodes down the line, there is been no revelation of anything other than the down-to-earth and factual. From signups to trials to training, it also takes that long to finally answer the question of: “Will Mutta realize his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut?”

    The manga is just starting its sixth year and as up to 19 volumes, but I’ve been avoiding any plot revelations I can, so I can’t tell you where it’s going. I can just tell you where it’s been. And where it has been is fantastic.

    I’ve been an on-again/off-again otaku since 1990 or so, and short of a couple classic series I adore, I have never been more impressed with a series than I am with Space Brothers. It can feel somewhat familiar in irreverent tone here, but the overall scope goes further afield than any series I can think of, and probably only Grave of the Fireflies tugs directly at the heartstrings more than episode 36 does. In most ways it is utterly unique, and utterly unlike anything you’ve probably seen or would associate with “anime” at all.

    Pardon the gushing, but if there’s anything I can give an un-ironic, heartfelt suggestion about to anyone and everyone, anime-fan or not, it is this show.

    I’ll come back if I have time with a more normal suggestion list. 😉

  • Ryan McCuaig

    Hey, I really liked your thread. The difference between you and I is I’ve seen a lot of animes and have enjoyed everything from Bleach and Naruto to FLCL and Gurren Lagann. However, shortly after turning 18, watching everything that’s out there no longer appeals to me. I really want to find some anime (both upcoming and already finished) that have more substance. I agree with your Berserker might be having a second season I hear so I’ll be looking out for that. But I would appreciate some more, “adult” animes as well where the plot is complex or just more mature than others.

    I disagree with the laconic review of Full Metal Alchemist. Although I haven’t seen it in a while, I don’t have a tattoo of the homoculous symbol on my chest because it was a mediocre anime. The original and the OVA are two different animes in my eyes (both of which I enjoyed), but the original is nothing like the other animes you just wrote off to be bad, “power of the week) anime’s (especially towards the end). Personal opinion though and I am not going to try to sell it to you if you already saw it and didn’t like it.

    I don’t remember seeing it recommended so I am going to recommend Gurren Lagann. Great series, many plot twists and you’ve probably already have seen it. Season 2 is so vastly different from Season 1 that it’s almost like a completely different anime. More mature, more complex and intricate, Season 2 puts it really high on my list of personal favorites.

    Steins Gate was great. Not too hard to follow but complex enough to keep me interested.

    There is one moderately interesting one called, “[C] – Control” that is available on YouTube (FUNimation’s Channel) although it isn’t TOO deep.

    Durarara is another great one. Don’t want to spoil the plot by describing it but definitely interesting. It has quite a few twists and although some of the character’s have abilities that you wouldn’t find in the normal world, the plot kept me interested when I watched it last year or so.

    I second the nomination for Fate Stay/Night. Although based around powers and things like that, well animated, great action.

    I absolutely loved Last Exile too. Great anime and interesting ending.

    I liked No.6 for a number of reasons. Definitely recommending it.

    The Mystic Archives of Dantalian was alright. I liked it purely for the art style although I don’t think you’ll enjoy the plot. Just thought I’d add it up here. Un-Go is also a good detective anime.

    Eureka Seven will always be one of my all time favorite animes. There is a sequel out (which was good in it’s own respect) but as a young male, I always enjoyed the plot. Although, you may find it a tad immature I still loved it. X’amd is also good.

    I’m about to try Guilty Crown and Spice and Wolf.

    If anyone knows any good animes that are more “adult”, please let me know.







    • Alexander Richardson

      Because his anus is bleeding.
      His anus is bleeding.
      For the love of God, and all things that are holy, His anus is bleeding!!!
      Lol. Best animated short cartoon ever. It’s listed above. Don Hertzfeldt Rejected Family Learning Channel Advertisements. Bloody hilarious.

  • Alexander Richardson

    Animes I’ve watched and enjoyed: Elfen Lied, Demon King Daimao, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, Highschool DxD… I’m sure there are more that I’m not thinking of at the moment.
    Animes I have tried to watch, but can’t stand: Naruto, (Seriously, patty-cake is NOT a fighting style, I don’t care what kinds of super-powers you’ve got.) FMA: Brotherhood. (It’s almost like they just gave up. I understand it’s canon, but the whole thing just feels like filler, you know what I mean? Like it goes on and on with no actual point, then just ends with no apparent thought on the outcome) Highschool of the Dead. (Just… Not entertaining.) Again, there are more, but I just can’t think of them at the moment.

    • Alexander Richardson

      Oh, One Piece was really good! Haven’t seen it for a few hundred episodes, but its first 50 episodes were good. I stopped watching shortly before Toonami stopped airing it, and just never got back into it. Even then, I wasn’t too big into it. I didn’t follow every single episode. It was still REALLY good though.