After a rough couple of years, conventions are slowly starting to pick up steam again, with great international guests and eager fans ready to come out in support of their passion for all things nerdy. Australia has also been blessed, as Crunchyroll is set to hold its first-ever Crunchyroll Expo convention in Melbourne on September 17-18th. The event is set to include live cosplay competitions, special screenings, and international guests.
Anime quickly became a mainstream global phenomenon throughout COVID due to its high-concept storytelling, intricate world-building, and colourful characters, which allowed many a great amount of escapism. As the genre has continued to gain mainstream acclaim, so has the accessibility for new fans as conventions such as Crunchyroll Expo continue to pop up all over the world. Conventions are great for allowing people to share in a community of creators and fellow fans alike by offering them the opportunity to connect to the subculture in celebration. Whether that’s by drawing incredible fan art, creating intricate cosplay costumes, or engaging in its prolific meme community, the anime subculture celebrates its community like no other.
For those new to the genre, however, anime with too many episodes, subtitles only, or perhaps too eccentric to immediately get into can be huge turn-offs. To help you with finding immediate quality shows, here are a few classics and modern shows to get started with.
Dragon Ball Z
Arguably the most iconic anime franchise in the world, Dragon Ball has been a mainstay in pop culture due to its amazing fight scenes and kids on the playground Kamehameha’ing you. The series can be quite confusing to get into however, as there are more Dragon Ball series than there are good Zack Snyder films.
If you’re looking to dive right in and see what all the Fortnite hubbub is about, I’d personally recommend Dragon Ball Z. The series follows a now adult Goku as he and his companions defend earth against iconic villains such as Frieza, Cell and Vegeta. The original Dragon Ball isn’t necessary viewing as Dragon Ball Z gives you plenty of context to what happened in the prior series as is, letting you dive right into the Super Saiyan action. It’ll also let you in on all the memes that continue to pop up even today in casual convos.
Dragon Ball Z is available to stream on: Crunchyroll
For many of us, Pokemon was our first exposure to anime sandwiched in the middle of our ritualistic process of watching early morning cartoons before school. Seeing all the different kinds of Pokemon fight each other was pure visual eye candy.
The story follows Ash and his Pikachu on a quest to become the Pokemon Master. Along the way, Ash forms close bonds with characters and Pokemon from the game series, such as Misty and Brock. In many ways, Pokemon is the most successful video game adaptation of all time, with over a thousand episodes and countless more on the way.
If you’re looking for a sweet nostalgia hit, starting from the beginning is an excellent place to start. However each series, the show hits the reset button to promote the next mainline game in the franchise, so if you have a strong connection to a certain game, you can definitely start there and not feel alienated by any plot threads.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Despite the first episode being released in 2019, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has quickly solidified itself as a modern classic. In the short time since its release, not only has the anime been an incredible financial success, but also its sequel film became the highest-grossing anime and Japanese film of all time during the pandemic.
Taking place in Taisho-era Japan, a secret society of demon slayers hunt down demons attacking towns and villages. The series follows Tanjiro Kamado on his quest to become a demon slayer while trying to find a cure for his sister, who has been turned into a demon.
The story is immensely gripping, but what helps the show stand out is its incredible production value. You can’t peak into any space involving Demon Slayer without everyone mentioning how the series has raised the bar on what to expect out of its animation and stunning art-style. The series heightens its action sequences and world building by embracing and blending 2D and 3D animation. If you’re even mildly interested in anime, you cannot skip this show.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist has been a respected and highly appreciated series amongst the anime community since its release due to its steampunk dark fantasy aesthetic, gripping fight sequences and moments that’ll have you keeling over in emotional pain like Yoda. Fun!
Following two brothers, Edward and Alphonse as they try to reverse the damage inflicted on them during a ritual to resurrect their mother. The two then join the State Alchemists to regain their bodies back through a fabled Philosopher’s Stone. Along the way, they discover a government conspiracy that sets up the central conflict of the series. The series is known for its thematic exploration of war and grief, while also having incredible action sequences.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the penultimate version of the show, as each episode only runs for 12-18 minutes, and follows the manga series a lot more closely, trimming all of the filler in the original.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is available to stream on: Hulu
One part of the Big Three Shonen alongside Naruto and One Piece that globally popularised anime and drove the genre of anime music videos on youtube. Bleach is a fantastic series for fans of action and hype soundtracks. Despite the anime adaptation ending on a cliffhanger, the show is being brought back for a final season to adapt the Manga’s closing arc. So now’s a good time as any to dive right in to build hype for the show’s return.
The series follows Ichigo Kurosaki, an edgy teenager who gains the abilities of a Soul Reaper. What makes Bleach stand out amongst the other Big Three Shonen are its weapon and character designs. Each character has unique and creative weapons and powers, allowing for the show to really run wild with its action and cosplayers plenty of inspiration to go all out on their outfits.
For anyone wanting to dive into anime culture, Bleach is an essential watch.
Bleach is available to stream on: Crunchyroll
One of the oldest classic anime and inspirations for people pretending to like Jazz, Cowboy Bebop has remained one of the highest-rated anime series of all time. It even spawned off its own terrible live-action series on Netflix that only lasted one season.
Following Spike and his group of bounty hunter misfits as they track down and arrest criminals, the series is renowned for its genre blend of sci-fi cyberpunk, cowboy westerns and neo-noir. While having a bit of a “villain of the week” format, and cheesier moments, what has kept the series at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes all these years is its exploration of existentialism and the chosen family.
The series just oozes cool as well, with the animation and soundtrack department working overtime. The show only has one season consisting of 26 half-hour episodes, so you can easily binge the entire series. You also might start buying Miles Davis vinyls and wearing turtle necks.
Attack on Titan
Attack On Titan is one of the most popular anime series due to its incredible first season filled with intense scenes and lovable characters. During its first seasons, many drew comparisons to Game of Thrones (the good seasons), due to its violence, high fantasy world-building and how no characters ever felt safe.
Set in an apocalyptic future, humanity now lives behind multiple walls to keep out Titans, giant naked-looking people that solely exist to eat people. The series follows Eren Jaeger, a survivor of a village Titans destroyed, and his journey to fight against the titans and uncover the mystery behind their origin. joins the Survey Corps, a group of soldiers specifically trained to fight against Titans with steampunk machinery. As the series unfolds, we learn more about the origin of the Titans and how the world has adapted to their existence.
Attack On Titan is available for Streaming on: Crunchyroll
A more grounded and slower-paced series, Death Note is a perfect starting point for anyone looking for a less fantasy-driven show. The show follows Light Yagami, a genius high school student who stumbles upon the Death Note, a book with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it. Tempted by Shinigami and rejected Kiss member Ryuk, Light uses the Death Note to enact vigilante justice onto any criminal he deems worthy, being given the pseudonym Kira by the public.
The story focuses on Light’s conflict with the eccentric detective known as L, a fan favourite antagonist throughout the series that proves capable and intelligent enough to potentially catch Light. The series is an amazing commentary on power and ego, while exploring the power that comes with playing God.
Death Note is available to stream on: Netflix
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Probably more notable for the impact on meme culture, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is an absurdist fever dream, filled with camp only John Waters could dream of. The series follows the descendants of the Joestar family, a mysterious family that possess psychic powers due to a generational curse. Each generation has its own “Jojo” that fights against supernatural foes. The series is known more for its frequent references to popular music and fashion, fuelling its eccentric humour which will have you strapped in for its wild ride in no time.
The series is perfect at capturing what makes anime so special and unique, and the potential for the genre. If you’re looking for something a bit more distinct and comedic, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is for you.
One Punch Man
If you’ve experienced a lot of anime culture through osmosis, or love series like Invincible or The Boys due to their satire on superhero content, you will love One Punch Man.
One Punch Man follows Saitama, who after doing a hundred push-ups, sit-ups and squats on top of running ten km every day for three years, has finally trained himself to defeat any opponent in a single punch. This, however, has left him incredibly bored. This leads him to join the Hero Association, which is essentially the Justice League, and work his way to being an S-class hero.
The show currently only has two seasons, making it a perfect series to catch up on while waiting for the next instalment.
Grab tickets to Crunchyroll Expo running from Sep 17-18 right here!Image: Dragon Ball Z / Demon Slayer