Japanese animation has funneled its way into streaming platforms like Netflix over the past decade, offering viewers some of the best anime to watch with friends on a weekend night. Because Japanese artwork and storytelling has become an international phenomenon, the world is being introduced to more animated works from Japan translated or dubbed into different languages (in most cases English).
As you scroll through the Anime section on Netflix, you’ll find that the options for anime subgenres are many. There’s everything from sports anime and romantic comedies to food competitions and blood-shedding adventures full of fight sequences and epic character development. If you’re new to anime, try not to be overwhelmed with all the choices. There’s an anime for everyone seeking a series that’s in tune with their preferences. We’ve compiled a list of our favorites for the best anime to watch with friends.
“Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba”
One of the most popular anime series that’s hit the United States, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba” is a gruesome, yet compelling story of an average teenage boy named Tanjiro who’s life changes when his family is slaughtered by blood-seeking demons. With his sister the only survivor and left to turn into a demon herself, Tanjiro struggles to protect his beloved sister from the typical life of a flesh-eating demon. While there’s only one season available, the makers of the series have released a brand-new film that is now available in US theaters, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.” Full of beautiful animation and emotional battles, the film has become a huge hit around the world.
“Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma”
This favorite food war series is unlike any other subgenre in the anime realm. “Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma” has five seasons of intense food competition featuring some of the best (real life) cuisines from all over the world. Yuki Morisaki, a contributor to the manga series, provides mirrored culinary expertise to support the overall accuracy of the different cultures and dishes created throughout the show. As you commit to the series, you’ll find yourself jotting down the different dishes for your next dinner at home. But, maybe check out the trailer before you watch this one with your parents. These characters really like food.
Showcasing a life of crime, pickpocketing and swindling, “GREAT PRETENDER” follows young adult Makoto Edamura as he discovers that he’s been surreptitiously scammed (in the process of trying to scam) by another fellow French con man named Laurent Thierry. Proclaiming the title of “Japan’s Greatest Swindler,” the story highlights the relationship between two of the greatest con artists battling it out to live up to their title as the better swindler. The storyline and stylistic animation through each episode is artistically breathtaking and will leave artists looking up some of the graphic art scenes through the series.
This story follows an African swordsman by the name of Yasuke who retires as a warrior to live life as a recluse boatman. Located in a remote village, Yasuke struggles to live his present life due to his previous service during the Nanban trade. The whole series is paralleled with the actual historical Yasuke, who served under Japanese daimyo Oda Nobunaga. Featuring the tale of the first “Black Samurai,” the story seeks to tell one of the most untold stories of 16th century Japan and is an anime not based on manga.
One of the best sports animations meets Netflix in this intense volleyball series that goes through a teenage boy’s journey of becoming one of the greatest volleyball players in Japan. Although his short height doesn’t phase his opponents, his passion and incredible vertical help him push his way through energetic and extreme volleyball rallies. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned veteran, the accessibility the show gives to the sport is one that’ll leave you wanting to get on the court yourself.
“Attack on Titan”
After Eren Jaeger’s mother is killed and the town is destroyed by giant human-eating Titans, the world realizes that humanity is on the verge of extinction. With Eren vowing to rid the world of all Titans and joining the Scout Regiment, humanity struggles to reclaim their world while fighting their own battles within the barricaded walls protecting them from the humanoid Titans. After the huge success of the first three seasons, the fourth and final season came out this year in Japanese theaters as well as recently becoming available on US streaming platforms. This is undeniably one of the most hyped animated series in the US this year.
“The Promised Neverland”
When a group of bright young kids discover the isolated orphanage they grew up in isn’t what they thought it was, three of them plan a risky, but rewarding escape outside its walls. With suspicious nannies and “Mother” lurking around every corner, the thrilling series follows an anticipated escape as they train themselves for obstacles inside and outside the orphanage’s walls. You’ll be surprised with what a group of highly intelligent kids can do when they put all of their talents and wisdom together.
“Hunter x Hunter”
Written and illustrated by Yoshihiro and Togashi, this martial arts “shonen” is a coming of age fantastical journey following a young boy named Gon Freecss who pursues his ambitions of becoming a hunter and potentially finding the father he’s never met. Even though it’s an older series, the storyline and tournament-style fight sequences keep this series entertaining. The audience is introduced to friends and enemies as Gon goes through the long journey and many troubling obstacles between him and becoming a master hunter.
Probably one of the best short anime series to hit Netflix, “Erased” is a story told by Satoru Fujinuma, a young man living in Japan who has the ability to go back in time and rearrange the past. Satoru keeps getting sent back 18 years into the past in order to prevent multiple kidnappings. With a dark, ominous vibe throughout the 12 murder mystery episodes as we follow Satoru try to prevent people from dying and kids getting kidnapped, the storyline is about as realistic as it may get (aside from the time traveling of course).
“One Punch Man”
With the ability to kill anyone with a swing of a punch, Japanese superhero anime “One Punch Man” is about a nonchalant Saitama who seeks to find a worthy opponent that will break up his life of endless boredom. Because his overwhelming strength is unlike anyone on the planet, Saitama struggles with trying to find the meaning of his life while casually battling opponents and monsters of all kinds. Humor is embedded throughout the fighting series, but what comes through behind the comedy is a punchline that won’t have you laughing.
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