Japanese animation or “anime” as it is commonly known, has been a major part of the mainstream entertainment since the 80s, when they experienced a boom in production. In the following decades, anime became a global phenomenon, and currently over 430 production companies are involved in an industry that has a total market value of $13.5 billion.

Almost exclusively based on manga, their print equivalent, anime stretch in a plethora of genres, address audiences of all age, sex, and preferences, and entail elaborate animation, despite being in their majority, at least partially hand-drawn. Here is a list with some of the best series in the category.

Just a few notes though. Each title represents the whole franchise, for example, the Monogatari title, includes Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, the Evangelion one the remake etc. The descriptions and videos of those titles will be paradigms of the whole franchise. The list does not include films, just series. The titles are in random order and in the name they have in USA and Europe. The list is utterly subjective, and I have an inclination towards violent, fantastic and surrealistic, and in general “serious” titles. That means I do not enjoy comedies, slice-of-life dramas, and titles that address smaller ages.  The descriptions are from anidb.net.

1. Samurai X

Ten years after the start of the Meiji Era, a Rurouni wanders into Tokyo to find a new life with his new friends. Vowing never to kill, he tries to escape his fate as the greatest killer of the Edo dynasty.

An old menace threatens the new Meiji Era, the villian is Shishio Makoto, the successor to the Hitokiri Battousai who was supposed to have died in the Boshin Wars. Shishio and his Juppon Gatana are ready to start a new revolution to correct the wrong doings of the Meiji Government and also to avoid colonization.

2. Samurai 7

Based on Kurosawa Akira’s famous Seven Samurai movie.

In an alternative past with highly advanced warfare machinery, on a planet that might have been called “Earth”, a war involving mechanized samurai took place. After the long war, people enjoyed a modest peace. The effective rulers of this new time were a small group of high-class merchants, wealthy and powerful enough to negotiate with the Emperor himself through His envoys, to hire all the military power they felt like, and to keep a harem at their service.

In those days, villagers everywhere suffered in the hands of bandits, ruined samurai who no longer followed their code of honor. After the war ended, they lost their purpose to fight, and they turned their efforts into robbing the villages of their crops and women in order to sell them. Because the villagers had no way to fight against them, they had to obey the bandits’ orders, or suffer heavy punishment. This also meant that the villagers had little rice of their own, and had to eat very little in order to not starve to death. This happened to many villages everywhere.

One year, before harvest season, the head of the Kanna Village proposed that they should hire samurai to protect them from the bandits. Rikichi, a man full of energy but who is easily frightened, Kirara, the village’s water priestess, and Komachi, Kirara’s younger sister, go into a town to look for samurai to help them.

3. Samurai Champloo

Mugen’s a buck-wild warrior — violent, thoughtless and womanising. Jin is a vagrant ronin — mysterious, traditional, well-mannered and very strong as well. These two fiercely independent warriors cannot be any more different from one another, yet their paths cross when Fuu, a ditzy waitress, saves them from being executed when they are arrested after a violent sword fight. Fuu convinces the two vagrant young men to help her find a mysterious samurai “who smells of sunflowers”. And so their journey begins…

4. Shigurui: Death Frenzy

In the sixth year of the Kan’ei era (1629), at the beginning of the Edo period, a samurai was hired to settle a grievance in the castle of Suruga. Appearing in a tournament which contravened all of the existing duelling laws to allow the use of real swords, the one-armed samurai starts a battle with a blind lame swordsman which brings together for the last time two mighty swordsmen whose bloody intertwined past is as beautiful and as gruesome as the scarred wounds that adorn their bodies and souls.

5. Katanagatari

The legendary swordsmith Shikizaki Kiki made 1000 swords in his career. The more of these swords a state had, the greater the success in battle. When the Shogun emerged victorious, he collected 988 of the swords… but those were only the swordsmith’s inferior practice pieces. For the final twelve swords were the pinnacle of his career. Each of them has powers so extraordinary, that one man wielding one of them could defeat a small army.

Shogunate strategist Togame has been ordered to recover all of them. She first hired a ninja… but the worth of the swords is so great the entire ninja clan defected the moment they recovered one. Then she hired a swordsman… though bound by honour, he felt he should keep the sword for himself.

Her last hope is Shichika, the seventh and last practitioner of the Kyotoryuu — the No Sword School. He and his sister live on an island cut off from civilization — so they have no need or use for money. His sword school does not use swords either — so he would not want the swords for himself.

So why should he help Togame?

“Because you will fall in love with me.”

6. House of Five leaves

Akitsu Masanosuke is a timid ronin on his way to Edo from the countryside when he accidentally encounters a playboy named Yaichi, who asks him to be his bodyguard. But it turns out that Yaichi is actually the leader of a group of bandits called the “Five Leaves,” and he’s hoping that Masanosuke will join them. Masanosuke is reluctant to help them, but as grows closer to his eccentric new companions, he learns to relate to them and grow as a person in the process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWFq1XMQJ0U

7. Basilisk

Kouga and Iga were ninja clans that had been fighting for 400 years. Gennosuke of Kouga and Oboro of Iga, loved each other and promised to break down the cursed bond of conversion. However, they were destined to kill each other.

It was Keichou Era 19 (A.D. 1614), 73-year-old Ieyasu was wondering which of the brothers he should choose as a successor, Takechiyo or Kunichiyo. Takechiyo was the elder but he was stupid, while his younger brother Kunichiyo was clever. In order to choose the successor, Ieyasu decided to make Kouga and Iga fight against each other. Both clans would choose ten best ninja to fight. If Kouga ninja survive, Kunichiyo would succeed to Shogun. On the hand, Takechiyo would become the next Shogun if Iga ninja win. Because Hattori Hanzou the first made them achieve a truce, they hadn’t had an apparent fight for years. Therefore, when the truce was broken, they went for fights as if they were unleashed hound dogs. The only weapon they use were their own bodies. They had special abilities that men could hardly imagine.

Now that, the battles of twenty ninja including old, young, men, and women began. They made most of their special abilities to fight. During the harsh battles, they were killed one by one. Which would win, Kouga or Iga? Who in the world would survive? Then, what would become of the love of Gennosuke and Oboro, who were separated by the battle.

8. Ninja Scroll

Kouga and Iga were ninja clans that had been fighting for 400 years. Gennosuke of Kouga and Oboro of Iga, loved each other and promised to break down the cursed bond of conversion. However, they were destined to kill each other.

It was Keichou Era 19 (A.D. 1614), 73-year-old Ieyasu was wondering which of the brothers he should choose as a successor, Takechiyo or Kunichiyo. Takechiyo was the elder but he was stupid, while his younger brother Kunichiyo was clever. In order to choose the successor, Ieyasu decided to make Kouga and Iga fight against each other. Both clans would choose ten best ninja to fight. If Kouga ninja survive, Kunichiyo would succeed to Shogun. On the hand, Takechiyo would become the next Shogun if Iga ninja win. Because Hattori Hanzou the first made them achieve a truce, they hadn’t had an apparent fight for years. Therefore, when the truce was broken, they went for fights as if they were unleashed hound dogs. The only weapon they use were their own bodies. They had special abilities that men could hardly imagine.

Now that, the battles of twenty ninja including old, young, men, and women began. They made most of their special abilities to fight. During the harsh battles, they were killed one by one. Which would win, Kouga or Iga? Who in the world would survive? Then, what would become of the love of Gennosuke and Oboro, who were separated by the battle.

9. Berserk

A mysterious warrior calling himself The Black Swordsman is out to get the King of a country called Midland. As he battles the king’s henchmen, their cries of pain and the spilling blood take this relentless warrior’s mind back in time to the path that led him to his current state.

On just any day, a pack of hooligans are harassing a young lady in distress when all of a sudden, they’re under attack. The Black Swordsman has returned. He wields a giant sword as large as his grudge against the king. When alone in the woods, the Black Swordsman has a flash back to years past and his trials and tribulations in the Band of the Hawk, a successful band of mercenaries under the charismatic leadership of Griffith, a man driven by the ambition to become king.

10. Scrapped Princess

Usually, the birth of heirs would be a joy to any kingdom. But at the time of the birth of the royal twins, it was prophesied that if the girl child reaches her 16th birthday, she would be the cause of the destruction of the world. Out of fear of the prophecy, it was decided that she should not be allowed to live and the little child was cast off the highest cliff to a certain death.

Pacifica, the child of whom the prophecy spoke, is now 15 years old and travelling with her adoptive brother Shannon and sister Raquel who are dedicated to protect her. Chased by various forces dedicated to see that the sentence of death is carried out, Pacifica is compelled to hide her identity and to rely on the strength of her brother’s sword and the mastery of her sister’s sorcery to stay alive.

With an army of warriors, sorcerers, and the might of the church all dedicated to her death, will the assistance of brother and sister be enough, or will Pacifica have to call forth the power to save herself and fulfil her destiny as it was told in the prophecy?

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I remember Samurai Champloo being really great. The way they blended quality anime with some excellent hip-hop production in the show’s soundtrack added a different kind of feeling to the series. Thanks for sharing these recommendations!

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