Author’s note: So I wrote this article a few days ago, just after seeing Rik (who’ll you’ll meet later) who cheerily added Steins;Gate to his Netflix Watch List. I saw Rik again today and he informed me that Steins;Gate has sadly been removed from Netflix. I’ve left it in the article because I stand by my recommendation, and you can still buy it on Blu-Ray, but this raises a good point about Netflix’s content rotation. Month-to-month Netflix can change, new shows and movies come and others go. It’s great because it means you constantly get fresh content but just be warned if you see something you like the look of in this article or while browsing the ‘flix, maybe watch it sooner rather than later. And now to the original piece…
Not everyone has a Crunchyroll or Funimation Now subscription, but everyone has a Netflix account, right? Or rather everyone at least knows someone who is more liberal with their account sharing than Netflix would perhaps like. Well did you know that should you possess a Netflix log-in, you also hold the keys to an ever expanding library of Japanese animated gold? I ask this because I was recently speaking to friend, fellow nerd and stand-up comedian Rik Carranza, who has recently been introduced to Steins;Gate by way of his appearance on the Enemy Of My Anime Podcast. He had no idea that the zany sci-fi epic was literally at his fingertips as he held his iPhone in his hands, which actually comes as no surprise given Netflix terrible algorithms and strange reluctance to let you just view an entire category. So I am taking it upon myself to present to you some of the best anime available on the juggernaut streaming service at this moment (according to me).
Ghost In The Shell
Let’s start with a big one, one of the most influential anime… no, one of the most influential movies of the 90s. Magnificent animation, impeccable music, a deep story, the perfect entry point for beginners and a beautiful reminder of the possibilities of anime for the seasoned. For the fully uninitiated, GITS follows Major Motoko Kusanagi and Section 6 as they chase down a mysterious hacker known as The Puppet Master. The Major herself is a cyborg, and over the course of the movie many questions are raised about what it is to be human, to be alive. It is worth noting too that this is the theatrical version and not the oft-maligned 2.0 remaster, which will be sure to please veteran fans (Think original Star Wars vs. the Special Editions).
Steins;Gate [now unavailable]
The very reason I write this article. Steins;Gate is not just my favourite anime, but my favourite TV show of all-time. In simplest terms it’s an oddball sci-fi romp, but the show is much more than that, a masterclass in character-driven storytelling. Adapted from the visual novel of the same name ,it charts the story of the Future Gadget Lab, lead by self-proclaimed mad scientist Okabe Ri… sorry… “Hououin Kyouma”, who discovers how to send messages to the past. The 25 episode arc starts at a slower pace, but around the halfway marks kicks up a gear and from then on you’ll run the gamut of emotions right up to the last second. But don’t just take my word for it, you can jump onto Netflix and watch it right now.
I very rarely have a conversation about Steins;Gate without bringing up Psycho-Pass, purely because in terms of quality it matches, and in some ways even surpasses my favourite show. Set in the near future, the Japanese government have adopted the Sibyl System, a law enforcement system that allows the Public Safety Bureau to see latent criminal tendencies in people and either incapacitate or in some cases (rather brutally) kill them before they can do harm. The show originated as a successor to Mamoru Oshii’s great works, such as the aforementioned Ghost In The Shell and comes from the same production company. It was also partially inspired by many Western sci-fi works, with one notable influence being the seminal Blade Runner. A word of warning, I initially found the lead character Akane Tsunemori quite irritating and almost dropped the show after three episodes. I implore you to look past that and keep going. There was enough good about the show to keep me invested and her development as well as that of those around her is nothing short of incredible. I guarantee you will love her by the end of episode 22 (as well as a certain male enforcer named Shinya Kogami).
Attack On Titan
This was an anime I watched after a long dry spell. For some reason, a lot of other things got in the way and I hadn’t sat and properly watched anything of merit for a long time. So when this popped up on Netflix a few years back I figured it was time to jump back in. The name Attack On Titan had managed to permeate Western culture so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The unrelenting brutality from episode 1 had me hooked and I would proceed to binge the show of the course of the next few days. Having taken a break from anime I had forgotten about its ability to often shock and disgust, but in a way that keeps you coming back for more. Attack On Titan centres around Eren Jaeger and his quest to take down every human-eating, 3 meters + tall, creepy, naked Titan after they take almost everything from him. This is a show of two halves, and admittedly the first arc is stronger than the second, but I cannot wait for this show’s return next year!
If I can credit this series with nothing else, it introduced me to TK from Ling Tosite Sigure, who are now my favourite Japanese band. The maniacal guitars of the intro to this show are worth the entry cost alone. Now I can hear the scoff of certain members of the J-Curi community as I add this to the list. If you ask certain people they’ll tell you this isn’t as good as the manga, and that it left a lot of stuff out, but I never read the manga and as a series on its own I really enjoyed it. The only issue I ever took with the show was the censorship, given the subject matter of the show, you would expect gore, there’s no need to hide it. Tokyo Ghoul is the story of Kaneki, a young unassuming boy who gets unwittingly embroiled in a world of demons known as Ghouls. After he becomes a flesh-eating Ghoul himself, he is forced to fight his urges to kill humans, despite blood being essential for his survival. A shorter show than the previous ones I’ve mentioned at just 12 episodes, it’s a nice concise series. And if your interest is piqued but you need more, then maybe the manga is the route for you.
Even as anime titles go, it’s an odd name for a series (although it is explained in an episode), and Durarara is an odd series, to say the least, but in the best possible way. It’s hard to describe what the show is actually about. It has multiple plot lines, a headless motorcyclist, colour gangs, a Russian sushi joint, but most importantly it has an amazing cast of characters, and while it initially seems disjointed, as you watch on the dots start to connect and you realise just how well written the story is. It has more than its fair share of “Oh right!” and each one is more satisfying than the last. Much like Steins;Gate, this is a great watch for those who love character-driven shows, trust me!
Recently the Netflix Gods shined down upon us and added this to their library. The reason I left this one until last is because this is a blind recommendation. I missed this show back in its original run, so I have never seen it, but it’s been on my list for years. Now that it’s available on Netflix it will be the next thing I watch! I cannot wait to delve into “the futuristic misadventures and tragedies of an easygoing bounty hunter and his partners.” (IMDb), just hope it’s as great as I’ve always been told it is (I have no doubt it will be). I feel like I should have more to say about this show, it seems like it deserves more. I’ll be sure to share my thoughts on it in our Facebook group.
And this is just scratching the surface, at this moment in time I can count 50+ anime titles on the service, and I’m sure there are more so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. All the shows I’ve listed above are available with either Japanese or English audio. Other titles on Netflix I’ve added to my watch list include Black Lagoon, Code Geass, Your Lie In April, Terror In Resonance, Elfen Lied, hell I might even re-watch Pokėmon: Indigo League. Of course, if you can think of anything we’ve missed, pop it in the comments below!