Compelling Anime for the Non-Fan

As a person with an affinity for anime, I have experienced my fair share of suggestions to friends and having the notion shot down – it’s not a good feeling. There was a time where I, too, was reluctant to watch anime, until I was ultimately turned to the genre of animation by a friend who first got me attached to manga, the Japanese style of graphic novel from which many anime originate. Being that I have grown up in the age of the internet, I has endless resources at my beck and call recommending anime that I should watch. As such, I have been exposed to numerous series, some which stand out as having the ability to appeal to all audiences. Anime is not everyone’s forte, but exciting stories are a forte of many. The following are two anime I think anyone, regardless their opinion of the medium, should watch.

Death Note

This dark thriller is known and loved by many, including a number of those who would not consider themselves anime fans. Set right here in our own world, this engrossing, morally gray tale of a young man who gains the power of a god and seeks to wipe the world clean of crime is equal parts mystery and crime drama.

High schooler Light Yagami wanders across a mysterious book one day, the words “Death Note” etched into the cover in an eerie font. Enter Ryuk, the shinigami “death god”, former owner of the Death Note. If a person’s name is written within the pages of the Note, it is said that person shall perish. His curiosity getting the best of him, Light tests this out. It happens that Ryuk was truthful in his statement.

Light begins to use the book as a means to wipe crime off the streets. Over time, the power of the Note consumes him, his acts evolving to a global scale. The mysterious deaths of criminals left and right across the world begins to grab the attention of law enforcement, the reclusive highly intelligent detectiver, L, is recruited, determined to unmask the vigilante behind these deaths. In an ensuing game of cat-and-mouse, L and Light constantly brushing against each other, the detective growing ever closer to uncovering the identity of Kira, Light’s alter ego.

The increasing intensity of the characters’ lives as the show progresses keeps audiences on edge, never knowing what to expect next on this dark and raveling rollercoaster of an anime.

The 37 episode gothic, high-stakes noir meets shakespeare adventure is available for streaming on Hulu.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Renowned within the anime community as one of the greatest series ever, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a true coming of age story if there ever was one. Unlike the typical shōnen anime or manga, this series has a set and concise plot, and avoids cliches and tropes common with most shōnen.

Set primarily in an Eastern Europe based alternate world, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood features the quest of a two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, on their quest to find the mythical Philosopher’s Stone, rumored to have incredible abilities. As children, the boys suffered a horrific accident in which Edward, the older of the two, lost his right arm and left leg, and Alphonse’s body was sealed in a separate dimension, the only thing keeping him “alive” being his brother’s act of sealing his soul within a suit of armor.

Blaming himself for what happened to his brother, Edward greaves for Alphonse daily, and makes it his personal goal to get Alphonse’s body back, willing to do whatever it takes.

Featuring a rich cast of complex and compelling characters, creator Hiromu Arakawa leaves audiences rooting, cheering, cringing, questioning, loving, hating, and crying. No character is bland, and it is some of those with the least amount of screentime that are the best.

Constantly evolving, the plot is full of twists and secrets, each arc flowing seamlessly into the next and introducing a plethora of new characters each time. From playing God, to corrupt governments, and mass genocide, the show constantly portrays thematic elements.

Hiromu Arakawa, creator of the manga, managed to craft a beautiful story which is sure to stand the test of time. This 64 episode series can be found on Netflix and is viewable in both English and Japanese – both of which feature phenomenal voice acting.

Worth Your While

Anime, as said before, may not be for everyone, but the medium through which a story is portrayed is no measure or limit of the true quality and impact of the story itself.