Great Teacher Onizuka
Depending on where you live, you may have actually heard of GTO, but outside of select circles it’s nearly unheard of. Great Teacher Onizuka is all about redemption, with each episode following one incident related to Onizuka’s new employment as a teacher.
Of course, Onizuka is more than a regular teacher. He’s an ex-gang member and a virgin, which the show makes abundantly clear. He is tasked with helping the worst class turn around and become something great (all while he’s trying to solve his “secondary problem”).
As anime go, GTO is genuinely hilarious. It knows when to be serious, and it knows when to pull out the jokes. Onizuka can be seen on Crunchyroll and hosts 43 full length episodes. Despite being a comedy, the show is best targeted at slightly older audiences (late teens and up).
Confession time: I didn’t really like Mushi-shi when I first started watching it. Yet after a few episodes, it really started to grow on me. The show’s pace is very much its own as it lumbers along slowly. Yet like the Zen master, that is only because none of its movements are wasted.
While the main “human” character is Ginko, the larger focus of the plot is really on Mushi, supernatural creatures that can only be seen by select individuals but have a great impact on the world around them. Ginko’s interaction with them is very much spiritual as he works to resolve problems caused by Mushi as well as understand how they interact with the regular world.
You’ll find the plot to be rather unusual because there really isn’t one. Every episode is its own story. The only consistent factors are Ginko and the Mushi.
Visually speaking, Slayers suffers from the same problem as Fushigi Yugi. It really looks old without an HD adaptation. Yet the show itself is remarkably fun, filled with interesting characters including Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev (the series’ chief protagonists) as well as a slew of others. Based on a series of light novels, Slayers was cast as an anime in the mid ‘90s.
Each of Lina’s adventures are different (there are currently 4-5 seasons, depending how you classify the last two) but follow a relatively linear path as she studies magic and does battle with the monster race. Most of the anime runs with a variety of gags and tropes, but the show is very much aware of its own jokes.
It has close to 100 episodes as well as several movies, so there’s plenty to watch. You can find it on FUNimation’s website.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
If there was ever a story to explore gender roles, Revolutionary Girl Utena is that show. Set in what seems to resemble a prep school for nobles, the show follows the evolution of Utena, a girl that decided as a child that she would become a prince.
With a number of simultaneous plot threads running throughout the show, Utena leaves you with plenty to consider. Each of the characters is competing to become the prince that owns the Rose Bride and will eventually be gifted with some sort of “revolutionary power.”
Beyond that, you’ll need to watch it yourself. Since the plot is absolutely central to enjoying the show, I really don’t want to spoil much. It’s worth noting that the director of Sailor Moon also directed this show.