Japanese innovation is responsible for compact electronics, digital audio recording, sushi … the emoji? But film and television adherents are probably most grateful to the nation for anime. Though mainstream animation is hardly pushover material, the Japanese form truly is in a league of its own, boasting a distinctive art style and storytelling boldness that most other animated works would be too squeamish to approach.
Specifically in the TV sphere, anime has provided international audiences with shows that are now regarded as highly influential and have bored their iconography forever into pop culture, like Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop. And the industry seemingly has no intentions of slowing down. In the previous decade of the 2010s, multiple anime series debuted that are already poised to become future legends of the genre.
Hunter x Hunter (2011-14)
Young orphan Gon Freecss discovers that his father is still alive, having left home years ago to become a “Hunter,” an elite individual charged with seeking out rare items, unusual creatures, and even dangerous fugitives. After learning this, Gon resolves to join his missing parent’s profession in order to find him. Along the way, he encounters various personalities and supernatural elements.
This anime is actually the second adaptation of the Hunter x Hunter manga, and is evidently a vast improvement over its predecessor, garnering consistent praise for its memorable characters, animation quality spike, and story arcs, particularly the Chimera Ant Arc. Find out what the hype is about on Peacock.
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (2011)
Jintan Yadomi, a teenage hermit, is somehow able to perceive the ghost of his childhood friend Menma. Together with four other kids, they used to be an inseparable group until Menma died. Eventually deciding that they are meant to aid her transition into the afterlife, Jintan reunites with their former comrades to uncover and realize Menma’s mysterious final wish so that she can move on.
A simple yet deeply moving coming-of-age tale, Anohana takes viewers on a trip through springtime friendship, tragedy, unresolved feelings, and adolescent angst. Laugh, cry, rekindle tender memories, and cry some more with this series on Funimation.
Attack On Titan (2013-Present)
Horrific behemoths called Titans have taken the Earth. Walled cities now house the last vestiges of the human race. A young man named Eren Yeager survives a Titan attack on his hometown that claims his mother’s life. Swearing vengeance, he enlists in the Survey Corps, humanity’s specialized task force for fighting the beasts, and learns that he has the strange ability to transform into a Titan himself, which gives him an edge against them, but also leads him down a path of dark revelations.
Dystopia junkies are not short of products to consume, yet Attack on Titan has managed to stand out among the best of today’s fare. Grim, gut-wrenching, intriguing, unflinchingly violent, and absolutely gorgeous to look at, this show will be missed immensely when its finale comes around. Get caught up on Hulu.
One-Punch Man (2015-19)
A part-time superhero known as Saitama has trained himself to be so powerful that he can defeat virtually any foe with a single blow. Bored with his job and desiring a challenge, he reluctantly forms a bond with a rookie superhero and joins the Hero Association, a professional organization created to combat a myriad of global threats.
One-Punch Man came out at quite possibly the best time, during the age of the superhero, and seemingly has a blast poking fun at its own genres. All the same, it lacks none of the straight entertainment value that you would expect from works like this. Saitama may be an unstoppable force, but he is still an appealing protagonist because of his interesting personality. Prepare to be throttled by this anime on Tubi.
My Hero Academia (2016-Present)
Widespread superheroism has become the norm following the emergence of superpowers, or “Quirks”, among the majority of the planet’s populace. Izuku “Deku” Midoriya, a superhero enthusiast, is one of the few without a Quirk who nevertheless dreams of being a hero. When Deku’s idol, the best of the best, bequeaths his power to the boy after seeing his worthiness, the now budding superhero enrolls in a prestigious school to train new generations of costumed champions.
With the massive popularity of superheroes at the moment, it is not surprising that My Hero Academia has been so warmly received. However, the anime would be able to stand on its own merits regardless, as it has wonderful characters, heart-pounding action, and a genuine love for its influences while still offering insightful exploration of the realistic implications of its premise. Become a fan of this show now on Funimation.
Satoru Fujinuma is a listless man in his late 20s with the inexplicable ability to travel backwards in time to avert calamitous occurrences. After his mother is murdered, Satoru is thrust 18 years into the past, to a time when a serial killer was actively targeting children in the town where he grew up. Realizing that the events must be connected, Satoru endeavors to change the future and save not only his mother, but also the killer’s victims.
Part psychological thriller, part sci-fi / fantasy, and part touching drama, Erased is a series that grabs your attention almost immediately and refuses to let go. Even when the narrative jumps back and forth between timelines, you never lose engagement, and are richly rewarded for staying invested. Stream it on Funimation.
Mob Psycho 100 (2016-Present)
Middle schooler Shigeo Kageyama, or simply “Mob”, is a psychic of immense power who keeps his emotions in check and apprentices under a charlatan spirit medium to control his abilities. As such, he struggles to live a normal life, which becomes more complicated upon meeting other psychics.
What Mob Psycho 100 has to offer anime watchers, both old and new, are refreshingly odd visual aesthetics and humor. But perhaps more importantly, underneath all that, there is a relatable and poignant narrative of a boy navigating his youth. Check it out on Crunchyroll.
Reclusive teenager Kazuma Sato dies unexpectedly (and embarrassingly), after which he is given the choice to reincarnate in an RPG-inspired world full of fantasy and adventure. Being a video game and anime fanboy, he agrees, but comes to periodically question his decision when he ends up stuck with hopeless companions comprised of the narcissistic goddess who facilitated his rebirth, an explosion-obsessed sorceress, and a female crusader with frightening masochistic tendencies. .
Not the most grandiose or dignified anime, but then, it is not trying to be. KonoSuba wholeheartedly embraces the absurd, and does so with intelligence. The love-hate dynamic shared between Kazuma and his party members is both hilarious and endearing. Sign up to get lost in madcap quests with this show on Crunchyroll.
The Promised Neverland (2019-2021)
At an isolated and idyllic-looking orphanage in the future, 11-year-old Emma and her fellow orphans try to escape their supposed sanctuary upon discovering a sinister secret behind it involving demonic entities.
The first season of The Promised Neverland blew people away with its story, world, surprisingly dark atmosphere, and well-executed twists and turns. The impact was such that it is hard to discount this show from the anime highlights of the 2010s despite the much derided second season. Decide for yourself on Hulu.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2019-Present)
Kindly Tanjiro Kamado returns home one day to find his family brutally slaughtered, except for his sister Nezuko, who has been turned into a man-eating demon, though she manages to resist devouring her brother. The young Kamado siblings then embark on a journey to somehow cure Nezuko and destroy Muzan Kibutsuji, the Demon King who butchered their loved ones. To do so, they make many faithful allies and Tanjiro learns to become a sword-wielding Demon Slayer.
Few modern shounen anime can arguably match Demon Slayer‘s electrifying action sequences, which the show continuously refines by, among other things, sparing no effort in the animation department. And when the series is not dazzling you with its fights, its characters are cracking you up or breaking your hearts. Experience this marvel on Funimation.
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