Where to start with Lupin? Who knows! I recommend the Ghibli movie, Castle of Cagliostro, though my favorite Lupin movie is the Mystery of Mamo (sorry to Miyazaki's directorial debut). The IIIrd OVA series (Goemon’s Bloodspray, The Grave of Daisuke Jigen, Fujiko’s Lie) are also an excellent starting point for those interested in graphic, nonstop, stylized action. That said, there’s an incarnation of Lupin for practically everyone’s taste. Lupin III is one of the longest running franchises in Japan, about the loveable bastard thief Lupin- he's like, the grandkid or somethin of the french literary thief Arsene Lupin- pulling off various absurd heists. Fujiko Mine is big sexy.
Another long-lasting, culturally adored franchise, focusing on the titular unlicensed surgeon himself. Osamu Tezuka drew both upon his actual expertise as a medical doctor and his extensive skill as a fantasy/sci-fi author in order to give us this lad; and there’s decades worth of media to get through about him. Good starting points would be the manga, the 90s tv series, or Dezaki’s absolutely fabulous movie.
I watched this in 7th grade and I've loved it ever since. A nonlinear narrative with oodles of characters that never lets up, jumping back and forth to weave a tight web of "damn, so that's how that happened, huh". 20s gangsters, immortal bastards, a train called the Flying Pussyfoot. Durarara could never.
Anime doesn't make me cry often. Death Parade got me good on that count- I was sobbing uncontrollably by the end. With an episodic structure but an over-arching plot, it follows a man named Decim who decides the destinations of the souls of the dead, based on fun party game tests, and his blackhaired assistant. Every ounce of this show is gorgeous. Even the goofy bits end up painful. Death is a haunting thing and this is one of the best depictions of how it changes people.
The reason I decided to compile this list. Sci-fi dystopia drowning in gorgeous religious imagery, following a lady private detective named Re-L investigating the recent disturbances amongst robots in her city. But then it turns into much, much, more than that. So much than that. Fuck blue lives Vincent is skinny.
Ghost in the Shell
The manga is... weird... But the first movie adaptation is a masterpiece, and the TV series Standalone Complex is also a fun romp in sci-fi politics. Motoko Kusanagi lesbian, too bad she's a fuckin cop. She investigates cyber brain crimes! wow!
Harmony is a film adaption of a light novel, and follows a cynical sci-fi peace officer named Tuan Kirie as she investigates a series of mysterious suicides in a world where everyone’s health is meticulously micromanaged. Slow, introspective, wistful, and intellectual, it’s one of my favorite modern anime films in general.
Guns! Vampires! Ridiculously over the top budgets! The hollow taste of victory ringing out in a never ending war, immortals who wander the battlefield crying for death like children! Titties! That's what Hellsing is all about. If you can handle a little skeeviness it's worth it. It's good as fuck, unironically.
Kachou Ouji: Legend of Black Heaven
My favorite romcom about cheating on your wife. I hate that I love this show. It's so well written it's unreal. Has one of my favorite anime openings of all time. About a middle aged man who used to be in a metal band getting recruited by aliens to use rock'n'roll to fight an interstellar war.
A fantastic original Yuasa piece about the persistence of memory, and transience of bodies; dizzying, head-spinning sci-fi with a beautiful and unique art style.
A thirteen episode adaptation of the manga with a slightly truncated plot, Kuragehime hits all the beginning high notes and makes a great accompaniment to the comic. About a NEET girl obsessed with jellyfish becoming a fashion designer after meeting a mysterious woman outside the local aquarium hobby shop. Worth watching on its own merit, though I definitely think since it’s a partial adaptation, being anime-only misses out on the later direct confrontations with gender politics.
Funmy greem bear treats people's mental conditions. Thoughtful and weirdly trippy exploration of the psyche, a rare experimental title from Toei. Blends live action, animation, rotoscoping, bastardry, and nonlinear narrative.
Le Chevalier D'eon
Silly french man gets possessed by his sister's ghost and Brad Pitt becomes bisexual. Gorgeous set and character design, exploring a deep historical conspiracy tinged by the supernatural.
Another experimental Toei title. A medicine seller (who probably isn't human himself) wanders Japan exorcising ghosts... Three or four self-contained stories. One of the most gorgeous shows I've ever seen in my life. I want it on blu-ray so fucking bad. Beautiful and destructive and emotional.
Tenma, an incredibly talented neurosurgeon, saves the life of a child over a politician at his prestigious hospital... Only for that child and his twin sister to disappear days later. Murders surface in his wake, and Tenma becomes a wanted man, tracking down the ghost of someone who he saved.
Similar premise to Mononoke, following a wandering medicine seller who exorcises supernatural beings called 'mushi'. Slow, philosophical, gorgeous. One of the most technically perfect anime ever produced.
Satoshi Kon goes through some fun dreams! Has Vocaloid in the soundtrack. I love this movie. Inception ripped off the movie. I regret watching this with my dad cos there's titties.
Pet Shop of Horrors
Vintage OVA weirdness with a fair amount of homoeroticism and supernatural flair. About a detective investigating the strange occurrences around a certain pet shop in Chinatown... Has Vampire Princess Miyu vibes.
Texhnolyze is one of the darkest, most cynical titles I’ve ever seen, and on that basis alone I recommend it- rather than playing hardcore and edgy for kicks, it actually cares about and carries through on its adult tone. Focuses on the impact a silent, emotionally scarred prize fighter has on the crumbling politics of his dystopian world.
The Big O
Batman except he pilots a mech and has a robot maid. Goes major fucking meta at the end, questioning the existence of practically everything.
There's even a Joker knockoff who also pilots a mech. Alfred is there.
Fun and spicy! Vash the Stampede has a big ole fuckin bounty out on his stupid head, and two insurance agents desperately try to cover for all the damage he's causing on theiir desert sci-fi planet... Oh, and then it starts getting into why it's a desert sci-fi planet. And how Vash is connected to that.
Trinity Blood is one of the stupidest goth animes in existence, it exists almost purely for aesthetic, it's literally just "what if there was a VAMPIRE who ate OTHER VAMPIRES and he was SEXY in a MOE way but also TORMENTED." and then this one turns out to be sci-fi too. Cardinal Catherine has lesbian vibes. I love this show.
Vampire Hunter D
Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust
EVEN SEXIER. i cried over this movie actually. it's painful and beautiful all at once. Required watching for goths.
About a silly little college student who can't decide how to spend his college life! Pretty art, breakneck pacing, fun and eccentric. It gets going and then it becomes so much more.One of Yuasa’s best titles.
Blue Submarine no.6
A personal favorite; Gonzo’s first OVA title, full of gorgeous animation and tightly directed. Touches on similar narrative threads to Texhnolyze and Macross Zero; a cynical man is recalled to active duty in a post-apocalyptic, flooded world, in order to stop a mad scientist from dooming the human species.Obviously it’s not as cut and dry as that, but the fun part is starting to see that narrative unwind.
I’ve been throwing this title around everywhere recently, but this is seriously a hidden gem. It’s fucking insane, it makes no sense, it’s one of the best movies to put on for a party and just sit around yelling “WHAT?” at when shit just keeps happening. Big recommend for those of you who enjoy Vampire Hunter D; it’s adapted from a manga written by the same author. There’s barely any plot to describe besides Capitalism ruins everything and a prettyboy shows up to promote terrorism. There’s also a nun with a machine gun.
I think this is on one of my other lists as well? But it’s just a short, fast, poppy bit of movie with excellent action; hit this if you love Trigger/early Gainax, it’s Imaishi’s baby. Two criminals try to escape from the police and get thrown on a prison complex on the moon and there’s a lot of stuff about caterpillars.
This show kinda catches a lot of heat for being really deeply involved in crashing the Western anime localization industry for a while, but that was gonna happen anyway, forgive it for being one of the horsemen ushering in the recession. It’s a neat little sci-fi detective series with a boppy soundtrack and a cute art style. There’s a werewolf dude. Excellent way to spend 26 episodes.
A relaxing, emotional slice of life about a near-future where humanity has tentatively begun expanding into space; our main character is an everyday woman who has taken on a job in the waste department of a space station, collecting outdated satellites and debris. It draws back to the day-to-day shenanigans of office life, and then hits when it really needs to. A perfect balance of levity and drama; recommended even if you don’t normally enjoy slice of life.
Stylish! Fast-paced! A massive time and budget sink that nearly crashed its studio! The magnum opus of racing anime! JP is like next-level moe! Watch Redline! Drive car!
I have emotional difficulties recommending it because it’s got a cop in it, but that was a different time, and also the cop is gay, so if you wanna see a tokusatsu love letter with a bunch of genre deconstruction (legitimate, actual, deconstruction, not the buzzword way it gets thrown around these days)… Go ahead, sink your teeth in, have fun.