Anime Recommendations and Open Thread

(The No Face t-shirt on sale at the NeatoShop)

Every few months, after watching more anime than is probably a good idea, I make viewing recommendations and ask Neatorama readers to suggest their own. Let's do it again!

When I first heard of School-Live, I didn't bother with it because, at only a glance, it looked like an insipid schoolgirl slice-of-life comedy.

Boy, was I wrong!

I'm glad that I took the advice of one of my students and watched School-Live. It's a brilliantly conceived and perfectly directed story. I don't want to say too much because it will give away the premise. But at the very end of the first episode, viewers realize something very important.

The main character, through whom we encounter the story, is an unreliable narrator. Her world is anything but happy and joyful.

One of my favorites over the past few months has been the series Overlord. It's a very inventive story with an addictive plot. A computer gamer who has spent years enjoying an online RPG is saddened to see it shut down after declining in popularity. He spent countless hours going on raids and making friends, eventually building a very high-level character.

When the online world is finally closed and the servers turned off, he finds that he's now living inside that world. He's now Momonga, an animated skeleton that he has played in the game for several years. Momonga faces the challenges of exploring and adapting to this new life.

Richard Eisenbeis, Kotaku's anime critic, creates indispensable seasonal anime guides. They're great starting points for exploring new anime. When he recommends a second look, I do it. And I was not disappointed when I followed his suggestion to watch Charlotte.

It's a superhero story, but unlike most. The setting is an inverted version of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. These teenagers develop superpowers with puberty . . . but then lose them as adolescence ends. And their superpowers are useful, but are usually matched with serious limitations.

Charlotte is a bit darker than I normally go for, but it's a compelling story that kept me clicking for the next episode.

Shomin Sample isn't innovative--it's a straightforward harem show. But it's consistently funny and charming.

Kimito is an ordinary teenage boy. In fact, statistically speaking, he's perfectly average. So he's come to the attention of an elite boarding school for the nation's wealthiest and most refined girls. The students don't know how to interact with common (non-upper class) people after graduation--aside from servants. So the school kidnapped Kimito to serve as a "sample commoner."

He's the only guy at a girls' school. The school administrators mistakenly believe that Kimito is gay, so he's not a threat to their girls. Kimito can't get involved in romance because the administrators threaten to, uh, nip that problem should it come up.

Like the Seinfeld sitcom, the slice-of-life genre consists of stories about nothing. So it's never taken up my attention. But I made an exception for Is the Order a Rabbit?, mostly because I like rabbits.

I'm glad that I did. It's an amusing show about . . . well, nothing of consequence. The characters are friends who work at various cafes around a town. Rabbit themes and motifs are everywhere and appear as the girls go about the activities of daily life, such as studying for school, shopping, and playing games.

And yet I kept on watching. I'm not sure why, but I did and enjoyed the experience.

What anime have you seen? Which series or movies do you recommend that other people try?

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Movie classics: Ghost in the shell, Akira & Paprika

Other than that, I recommend:
Psycho Pass, Daily lives of high school boys, Eureka seven

And those 2 have deep stories: Rurouni Kenshin and Vision of Escaflowne
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IMDb just started doing a top 250 list for TV --to go with their famous 250 movie list-- and it includes a lot of anime. Bebop and Death Note unsurprisingly have the highest placements (#27 and #34). Waaayy too much Dragon Ball Z. (Not a fan. And why are there so many different versions of the show??)

But other placements like Steins;Gate (2011) (#81) and Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) (#104) are legit fun. Anyway, just like the IMDb movie list I think it is a worthwhile guide.
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