With many Americans under some version of a stay-at-home order, you’ve probably found yourself spending an inordinate amount of time in front of your TV. If you’re like me, you may have found yourself burning through your watch list. No worries, I got you. Whether you want to lean into the post-apocalyptic vibes or are simply looking for an escape, here are five anime you should add into your viewing rotation.
Look, there was no way in hell I was going to write this list and not put Naruto on here. If you’ve been on the internet at any point in the last five years, you’ve probably seen at least one Naruto meme. The last decade has seen Naruto become one of the most popular anime of the current era. The series follows the titular character and his friends Sakura and Sasuke as they train to become ninja under their teacher Kakashi. While it starts a little slow, once you get to the chunin exams shit goes hard. The fight scenes in the series rank among some of the best in anime but the show also has an enormous amount of heart. The world-building and character development are also top-notch. The show is daunting due to its length but with us looking at at least another month of quarantine, that’s plenty of time to get through the show. Especially if you use this list to skip all the filler episodes. If you’re looking for an exciting series that will keep you entertained for a long time, look no further than Naruto.
Dragon Ball Z and Naruto walked so that My Hero Academia could run. My Hero Academia is easily the most popular anime to have been released in the last five years. The series takes place in a world where everyone has a quirk, a unique superhuman ability. This results in heroes, villains and sidekicks being commonplace. The story follows Deku, a quirkless teenager on a quest to become the greatest hero the world has ever seen. The show is currently airing and just wrapped up its fourth season earlier this month. At only 88 episodes, it’s not nearly as daunting as Naruto and you could easily catch up with the current arc. The show is fun and is brimming with positive energy. Similar to Naruto, it’s a joy watching Deku go from straight scrub to a dude who can actually throw hands.
This is for the folks who feel like leaning into the existential despair of the current moment. Attack on Titan takes place in a world where humanity has been forced to live in one city. Titans, massive humanoid creatures, attack the city and devour its residents. The specter of death constantly haunts the protagonists of the series and early episodes of the show really leans into the hopeless and existential dread the heroes face as they go to battle. The show follows Eren, Armin and Mikasa as they join the scout regiment to fight the titans that terrorize their city. The series has a lot of twists, turns and reveals making the earlier seasons an engrossing watch. While it was a bit overhyped at launch, Attack on Titan is definitely worth a watch. Especially if quarantine has had you in the mood for something post-apocalyptic.
Samurai Champloo is probably tied with the anime I’m listing next as one of my favorites of all time. While it features a host of kinetic action scenes, the jazzy hip-hop soundtrack provided by Nujabes and the mellow, occasionally contemplative nature of its episodic storytelling result in a show that’s just chill af. It’s an anime that you can have a drink, pop an edible and just vibe to. The series follows Mugen and Jin, a vagabond and a ronin respectively, who are recruited by a young woman named Fuu to find the samurai who smells of sunflowers. The series is only 26 episodes so it’s a quick watch. If you’re looking for a relaxing show that still contains some bursts of excitement, this is the one.
If I was hard pressed to name my favorite anime of all time, Neon Genesis Evangelion would be the first come to mind. This is the post-apocalyptic anime to beat all post-apocalyptic anime. The series follows 14-year-old Shinji Ikari as he’s recruited by his father to pilot a giant robot called an Evangelion to do battle with an alien race called “angels.” The show takes place 15 years after an event called the second impact which resulted in the death of millions of people. The show starts off as a standard mecha anime before evolving into a complex study on theology, philosophy, mental illness and sexuality. The series and its two movies, Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion build towards a finale that’s stunning, emotional and horrific. If you’re really craving some existential horror with a side of giant robot action, this is the one.
Not going to lie folks, this list was mad hard. There were so many more anime I wanted to put on here. If there is anything you think I missed or anything you’d want to recommend yourself, drop them in the comments! I’m always looking for new anime to watch.