Fair use image of official artwork
With the sheer amount of anime that is out there, it may be overwhelming for anime fans to find recommendations that can satisfy all viewers, no matter their personal tastes. Therefore, I have compiled a list of my top three favorites to put the spotlight on these must-watches.
Hunter x Hunter (2011):
In the world of Hunter x Hunter; Hunters are licensed prodigies who pursue fantastic things— such as finding riches, capturing criminals and exploring uncharted lands. Abandoned by his father at a young age, twelve-year-old Gon Freecss longs to see why he left him to become a Hunter, instead of raising his only son. Determined to learn the truth, Gon follows in his father’s footsteps to become the best Hunter he can be. Along the way, Gon meets new friends and foes who show him what it truly means to be a Hunter.
At the beginning of the anime, the plot of the story is simple and sweet— Gon wants to find his father, and follow in his footsteps to understand the greatness that is being a Hunter. However, this straightforward plotline suddenly becomes a carefully orchestrated work of writing. The six arcs throughout the series all interlock through the creator’s masterful use of characterization, dialogue, and varying tones and depths. Throughout the series, these themes help express to the viewer a differing perspective on not only the world of Hunter x Hunter (2011) but the one we live in, as well.
Out of all the great things that Hunter x Hunter (2011) has to offer; the cast of characters in the show are undeniably the most impressive I’ve seen in any anime. Every character— even the villains and minor ones— have an impressive amount of quirkiness to their personalities. For the vast majority, most characters are neither completely good or completely bad; they all contain a depth to their emotions that brings them to life. Each character introduced to the show is original and has a detailed, developed psyche. They have objectives, inner demons, and opinions on the things happening around them, which only intensifies how compelling the anime is in nature.
The art in Hunter x Hunter (2011) is colorful and delivers a constant quality throughout the series despite having 100+ episodes. Color, lighting, and shadowing is gauged in intensity depending on the mood of the scene or the arc. The art is simple yet has a stunning depth to it, which properly reflects the anime’s standpoint.
Hunter x Hunter’s soundtrack starts off good, but becomes more and more exceptional as the series goes on. Some characters have their own theme music when they make an appearance, which really adds to the ambiance of scenes. For the most part, the voice acting is stunning aside from a few minor characters. The emotion of the character is captured by their voice actors in a baffling manner.
Despite being short in stature, Shoyo Hinata dreams of ruling the volleyball court, and soughts the feeling of the ball against his hand as he makes a strike. Although, much taller strikers— such as “King of the Court,” Tobio Kageyama— defeat him swiftly with the combination of their height and skill differences. However, he doesn’t let this impediment stop him from working towards his dream. Hinata is energetic and lively, and on the court, he can jump until those around him believe he will take off and fly. When Hinata enrolls in Karasuno High School’s volleyball team; he meets people who push him to secure his wings. With its lovable characters and friendships that extend beyond the court, Haikyuu!! is a masterpiece that sports-lovers and bench warmers alike will fall in love with.
The plotline is true to the sports anime genre— the characters are filled to the brim with aspirations of becoming the school best team around. They train hard and the character’s lives generally revolve around the sport they play. Nonetheless, Haikyuu has a way of making this standard, basic plot into something invigorating. Despite everything revolving around volleyball, the anime shows how the sport shaped who the characters are as people. Haikyuu takes the time to make subplots that show character’s backstories and how that connects with volleyball. It heightens the sense of unity on teams, and very quickly their relationships and aspirations for teamwork become the story.
Undoubtedly the greatest part of Haikyuu are it’s cast of unorthodox, yet relatable characters. It doesn’t matter whether they are close with the main characters or not— every single character is fleshed out and has their own distinctive characteristics. There is such an enormous amount of characters that it is virtually impossible to not relate to at least one of them throughout the span of the anime. It should also be noted that basically everyone is likable in the show. I have never come across an anime that makes every single character a joy to see on-screen.
The art style in Haikyuu takes some getting used to at the beginning. It’s very stylized compared to other animes, but not in a way that makes it unattractive or garish. Rather than being cartoony, the anime is true to the manga and shows off the characters in a more realistic style. The way the characters are drawn make every scene have a sense of fun— which should be present in the sports genre. All the colors are vibrant and fluid and it makes volleyball matches intense and yet entertaining to watch.
While all the opening and ending themes were nice to listen to, they weren’t as exceptional as some animes I have seen. However, the sound effects and background in this anime were exceptional. The smallest sounds, such as a ball whooshing or the sneakers on the court, were impressively rendered throughout the series. All the voice actors are well-casted and really bring the anime to life.
Attack on Titan:
Within the walls built by their ancestors, a community hides from the monstrosities on the outside— titans, giant humanoid creatures who crave the taste of human flesh. The walls are upheld to keep the human race from being slaughtered like centuries before. This anime revolves around the story of a hot-headed teen named Eren Jaeger. Along with his best friend Armin and adopted sister Mikasa, Eren looks for a chance to fight back in his colorless world. He desires to be brave and find out what else is out there, whilst Armin pipes in dreamily about his desire to see the ocean. But all of that changes when a titan breaks through the wall, leaving a gaping hole for the other titans to come in and devour them.
This anime’s plot is, in short, an emotional roller coaster. The things that the characters go through are horrifying and gory, and their desire to fight back makes the anime enthralling to watch. At every turn it is suspenseful, even in the quiet moments when no one is physically fighting— the fight back is just as much cerebral as it is physical. Attack on Titan’s story is amazing in that it is constantly moving and improves upon itself in every episode. There are many layers underneath the surface plot, and it leaves the viewer hungry to view more.
The fact that every character has a reason to fight for humanity is what makes the cast so unified and yet diverse at the same time. Different characters offer their own unique things to the show that thicken the plot and story: comic relief, human emotion, or friendship with other characters. While some minor characters are a little flat and not completely flushed out; the majority the characters offer insight into the events of the anime in an interesting way.
Attack on Titan offers the most stunningly beautiful animation. The attention to detail, whether in the character’s expressions or in the scenery, is breathtaking. The art truly heightens the intense nature of this anime— it makes the scenes profound and the viewer more inept to take the plot as a whole more seriously. While the plot is dark and terrifying, the art somehow makes you want to indulge in that dystopian world.
As the setting of the anime is based off of mainly german locations, the soundtrack incorporates both the Japanese and German languages; which is really unique and impressive. The openings perfectly match the theme of the anime. All the music has an dramatic intensity that makes you easily get in the mindset to watch the episode. Not only that, but the voice acting is strong for the vast majority of the characters. Their voices express all the pain and fear the characters feel inside, which can only be expressed through masterful voice casting.