As UK-based anime fans, we pay close attention to the comings and goings of Netflix’s otaku offerings. While there are plenty of quality shows, we’ve taken out the hard work and put together the top seven, so all you have to do is sit back, Netflix and chill. (Not like that. Or like that, if you want. Who are we to judge?)
The classic, and still a stunner. Accept no substitutes. More than just a notebook and your greater spotted teen with pretentions of superior knowledge, Death Note tells of the borders between religion and faith, righteousness and evil, loathing and lust. Light’s an unusual anti-hero who, repugnant as he is, maintains a fascination through the enigma of his motivations. His dance of domination with super sleuth L is a masterclass in putting the seduction back into the hero’s triumph, and the villain’s comeuppance.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
“I am the bone of my sword.” Come on, who could resist that? This one might well be a grower for some, but once it gets its grip, you’re hooked for good. On its surface it’s a wish-fulfillment vehicle of lush proportions, especially for the history and mythology nerds out there. But as the human Masters and their Servants, warriors torn from all Earthly dimensions, clash in the Holy Grail War on epic levels of good and evil, you unlock this show’s secrets without even trying. The war and its warriors are beautiful, tragic and reflective; somehow, the stranger they get, the more we can see of ourselves.
The Mushi are primitive beings, ones that were around before the first bacteria on Earth. Ginko, a Mushi Master (Mushi-shi) is one of the few who can see them, and one of even fewer of the wanderers who attract them. He floats in the mist of dust under leaf cover, travelling from sleepy village to musty settlement, and helping people who find themselves troubled by the ancient spirits. The plot’s trajectory is drops in a river, the ripples rarely touching, the emphasis more on the atmosphere’s early morning chill.
For cowboys in space, there’s no promise of vengeance against your enemies, or even finding the job that will feed you and keep your ship in the air. Although we grow fond of the crew of the Bebop and want to see them take down that six-figure bounty, we never truly know them. We just cross them like stars in an endless night. It’s this character dynamic that makes Cowboy Bebop stand out among its fellows. Feeling in your gut that they’re only hitching rides together until they’re drawn down different roads, makes it no less heartbreaking when they go their separate ways.
A grim and gothic fairytale that’s grown over our hearts like a tangle of knotweed, Elfen Lied takes the princess in the high tower, tortures her and turns her loose on all who kept her prisoner. Lucy becomes the passive mask for the genetic weapon that is her race, the diclonius, would-be dominators of humanity. But it is humanity that would use her supernatural powers to their own ends, their abuse the catalyst for her fall into trauma, forgetting herself. Feminist subtext and touching themes of love and redemption make this one worth the watch, the gore no more than a bloody smear on its surface.
The power in this journey of two brothers in self-affirmed exile is in their bonds of love, friendship and comradeship made and broken. Edward and Alphonse Elric’s road is broken as it begins, the loss of their mother leading them to the darker temptations of alchemy. When they leave their home for good, it is to learn how to use the mystical technique for the better, and so we uncover its secrets beside them through determination, twisting investigation and majestic battles between good and evil. Their losses along the way only make them stronger, making them two of the greatest characters to urge on and aspire to.
Dripping with grandiose tragedy, look no further for your thrilling action balanced on the blade’s edge with poignant drama. Ex-prince Lelouch believes himself all-powerful when he unlocks the persuasive powers of the Geass, and uses his new ability to form a band of rebels, striking against the hated Britannian Empire that left him an outcast. But pride, as we know, comes before a fall, and the fall of Lelouch vi Britannia is a transcendent and dreadful one to witness. One that tempts you with every next episode, terrified of what’s to come.
Whatever your top pick from this list, have a great time watching! Just don’t blame us when you can’t tear yourself away from the screen. If you’re one of those smug lot already caught up, what do you think of the shows on this list? Comment with your thoughts, cuz we want to to hear them.