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Power Grid

10 Anime You Should Watch (And That Are Easy to Find!)

  1. 1.10 Anime To Watch On Netflix and Hulu 10 Anime To Watch On Netflix and Hulu

    Getting into anime, let alone keeping up with it, can be quite difficult in the United States -- much of the good stuff isn’t aired on cable, it takes dedication to keep up with fansubs, and it’s often hard to weed out the good, women-friendly titles from the hypersexualized harem anime. There’s also that whole bit about torrenting being, wouldn’t it be nice to have a bunch of good shows concentrated into one or two easy-to-use places?

    So, in order to make your life easier, I’ve compiled a list of 10, feminist-friendly anime to legally watch on Netflix and Hulu, which is either free, something you already pay for, or only $8 bucks a month! Of course, there’s always places like Crunchyroll that legally stream anime for $7/month, but this list is more geared to nerds that haven’t quite decided whether or not anime is for them.  

    So, with that said, let’s jump right into our list!

  2. 2.Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex <em>Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex</em>

    Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows Major Matoko Kusanagi, a cyborg squad leader of the police taskforce Public Security Section 9, as she investigates a series of mysterious hacking incidents perpetrated by the Laughing Man. This cyberpunk series deftly explores the consequences of technological advancement, political corruption, and questions of consciousness and humanity, all the while thrilling us with the adventures of Matoko and her team. The best part? Matoko is an excellent female character -- she’s a strong, capable leader, she’s queer, and she manages to express a unique brand of femininity that isn’t centered around men caring for her.

    Check this out if you’re into William Gibson-esque philosophical cyberpunk dramas featuring capable, queer female leads.

  3. 3.Slayers <em>Slayers</em>

    Before you discount Slayers on the basis of its old, now shoddy animation, hear me out: if choose not to watch this series, you’ll be missing out on one of the most feminist comedy/adventure shows of its time. Slayers centers on Lina Inverse, a powerful sorceress who loves treasure and causing trouble. What makes Slayers particularly fun is that it is totally cognizant of adventure anime tropes and often seeks to subvert them -- for example, in the first episode Lina is about to blow up a gang of bandits when an attractive young man rushes in to save her. Although it’s obvious that she totally could have handled it herself, she begins to scream like a typical damsel in distress because it’s what her attractive savior is expecting, and she’s looking to impress him. It’s an old anime, but it’s aged well and it’s a fun, fantastical adventure led by a bubbly, funny, and super powerful girl. What more could you want?

    Check this out if you’re into adventure, comedy, and treasure-stealing fire mages.

  4. 4.Fullmetal Alchemist <em>Fullmetal Alchemist</em>

    Fullmetal Alchemist follows Edward and Alphonse Elric as they search for the the Philosopher’s Stone in order to restore their bodies, which were left in varying states of disrepair after a failed attempt to bring their mother back from the dead using alchemy. FMA’s setting is evocative of a post-industrial revolution Europe, and the series uses elements of steampunk and magic to tell its tale of political corruption, state militarization, genocide, and human loss. As an added bonus, the series includes some pretty fantastic women characters: Winry Rockbell is a capable mechanic who fixes Edward’s automail arm and Riza Hawkeye, an accomplished sniper is a level-headed badass.

    Check this out if you’re into magical steampunk meditations on state violence and the strength of familial bonds.

  5. 5.Ouran High School Host Club <em>Ouran High School Host Club </em>

    Upon first glance, Ouran might seem like a pretty typical romantic comedy anime geared toward women -- you’ve got a shy girl, a dashing but complex male love interest, and a high school setting, the perfect elements of a romcom. However, we have to give this series a little more credit than that. Ouran follows Haruhi Fujioka, a poor female student on a scholarship at a prestigious private academy. On the prowl for a place to study, Haruhi stumbles upon the school’s Host Club, a group of six male students who entertain women, and promptly breaks their expensive vase. In order to pay them back, short-haired, androgynous Haruhi must work as a host. When you think about it, this series is remarkably queer -- not only do the school’s women absolutely fawn over Haruhi, the entire premise of a host club seems to disrupt the male gaze. In this universe women gaze at men and masculine women. Furthermore, when the hosts clamour to win Haruhi’s heart, she’s often still in masculine clothing, queering the desires of her straight male counterparts.

    Check this out if you’re into the idea of a queer heterosexual romcom. Or if you just like the idea of a host club.

  6. 6.Another <em>Another</em>

    Another is totally creepy! When Koichi Sasakibara transfers to his new school, he can tell there’s something his new classmates aren’t telling him -- specifically, why he seems to be the only person to acknowledge that Mei Misaki, a mysterious girl who sits in the back of class, even exists. I won’t spoil anything for you, but Another’s story is complex, creepy, and ends with more than its fair share of deaths, so if you get too attached to characters, perhaps this show isn’t for you. For those willing to brave this beautiful blend of weirdness and despair, you’re in for a real treat. Another has enough twists and turns to keep the plot interesting, but also leaves time for its interesting characters to shine, specifically the class outcast Mei -- she is so much more than a one-dimensional gothic-lolita-esque girl.

    Check this one out if you’re into horror and M. Night Shyamalan twists, with a bit of campy violence thrown into the mix.

  7. 7.Kino’s Journey <em>Kino’s Journey</em>

    Born from a series of light novels, Kino’s Journey centers on, well, Kino, an androgynous young girl who, accompanied by her talking motorcycle Hermes, travels the world but stays in a town for no more than three days and two nights, as the last thing she wants is to settle in and settle down and give up her life of adventuring. Each town that Kino visits has its own set of troubles that often symbolizes deeper questions of oppression, beauty, and freedom. For example, one town she visits is entirely run by machines, the product of a society that adapted the ability to feel each other’s every emotion. The consequence? An utter inability for human co-existence, the burden of intimately knowing one another’s pain too large to bear. Although Kino’s Journey is very easy to watch -- the landscapes are beautiful, the animation is minimalistic yet visually stunning -- the ideas that it contends with are not that easy to escape.

    Check this anime out if you’re into heavy-hitting, deep philosophical musings conveyed through the journey of a young girl and her motorcycle.

  8. 8.Le Chevalier D'Eon <em>Le Chevalier D'Eon</em>

    Le Chevalier D'Eon revolves around Lia de Beaumont, a woman who is viciously murdered and found floating in a casket along the Seine. D'Eon, her younger brother, takes it upon himself to investigate her murder, and things get quite complicated when her soul enters his body so she can exact her revenge. Le Chevalier D'Eon is interesting because of the supernatural way it handles violence against women -- Lia, who is the victim of a brutal murder, does not have the agency to take revenge, but her brother, a man, does. So in a way, Lia is mobilizing his male privilege to her own end, an interesting take on gender and power.

    Check this anime out if you like loose French history, horror, and tales of revenge enacted by the ghosts of vengeful women.

  9. 9.NANA <em>NANA</em>

    NANA follows the lives of two young women that share the same name, Nana, as they try to establish themselves in Tokyo. Nana Osaki is the lead singer of a punk band who leaves her bassist boyfriend to pursue her true love, her band Black Stones. Nana Komatsu is a rather childish woman who falls in love at the drop of a hat. NANA catalogues the ups and downs of their lives, and it is certainly refreshing to see an anime that manages to depict women in a complex light -- these ladies aren’t perfect, but neither am I and I’m glad to see a set of women protagonists I can relate to.

    Check out NANA if you like punk rock, romance, and media that explores the strength and importance of friendships between women.

  10. 10. Rideback  <em>Rideback</em>

    I would suggest Rideback to even the most stubborn skeptics of feminism in anime. This series follows Rin Ogata, a former ballerina who breaks her foot, quits dancing, and joins her school’s RideBack club, where she learns to ride a transforming motorcycle-like robotic vehicle. It’s not just a sport, though -- under the clenched fist of a tyrannical government, Rin is forced to use her riding skills to fight for the freedom of herself, her friends, and her family. Naturally, this show is a shoe-in for this list: it seems to posit that ballet, an art often associated with women, can prepare the body for battle just like any other sport, and that women are perfectly capable of appreciating the power of mecha when it comes to toppling tyranny with force. I am totally in love with this anime, it places a woman in the center of a genre that usually caters to men with such ease that you have to wonder why aren’t all action anime like this.

    Watch this series if you like robots, fast-paced action sequences, and a lady protagonist that manages to be graceful and deadly.

  11. 11. Wandering Son <em> Wandering Son</em>

    You might not have heard much about the anime Wandering Son, and that's a shame, because it has some of the most poignant and sincere depictions of young people grappling with their gender identity that I've seen anywhere. Shuichi Nittori is a child who was assigned as a boy at birth – she desperately wants to be recognized as the girl she knows she is and often wears girl's clothing, despite receiving ridicule from her classmates.

    Wandering Son stands as an beacon of light in an art form often plagued by depictions of trans* characters used for comedic purposes, or as silly plot devices. Instead of a silly story that makes light of gender identity, the viewer is presented with both serious and lighthearted tales of Shuichi undergoing puberty, growing body hair, getting pimples, and experiencing a deepening voice, all while trying to reconcile her gender with the world.

    Check this out if you're into slice-of-life, queer dramas about puberty, friendships, and childhood love!

  12. 12.Honorable Mention: Avatar: The Last Airbender Honorable Mention: <em>Avatar: The Last Airbender</em> Okay, so technically Avatar isn’t anime -- it’s not from Japan -- but it’s definitely an anime in spirit. Avatar is set in a world in which people known as benders can manipulate the elements. The story follows Aang, the one person in the world capable of bending all four elements, and his band of buddies as they fight to bring peace to the world by ending the Fire Lord's war against the other nations. This show is super fun and not only does it excel in the realm of strong women characters (namely Katara, Toph, the Kyoshi Island Warriors) it also excels at crafting an incredible, multiracial cast. While most anime worlds tend to appear to feature white characters to the Western eye, Avatar makes sure the sources of its cultural influences (East Asian, Inuit, Indian and South American) are impossible to overlook. Yes, that’s right, this super-popular show actually features protagonists of color! Check this series out. Just do it, what are you waiting for?!

    Edit: I originally included this series in the top 10 list, which was the wrong move as it's not anime and the discussion of race I offered wasn't fully contextualized and fleshed out. However, this animated series is still extremely important on the basis of it featuring characters with darker skin, something very rare in not only most animated series, but all media, so if you haven't already, watch it!

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  • j.d.s.

    FLCL is short but amazing! It is also on Netflix. This list is great – thanks!

  • Angelica Marie Mijares

    Just a correction, a State Alchemist is an alchemist who receives a stipend from the military government but must work for them in turn. Riza Hawkeye, while a bona fide badass, isn’t an alchemist at all, though her father was. Anyway, I suggest you guys watch FMA: Brotherhood as it is closer to the manga and has a much more satisfyingly awesome storyline than the first.

  • Anonymous

    Slayers is one of my all time favorites, but I cannot recommend the English dub. The voice of Xelloss terrible and basically ruins the character. Get the DVDs if you want to watch it legally in its best form :)

  • Anonymous

    Whoops, it’s been a while! Thanks, and fixed! 

  • Anonymous

    You should also look into Moribito on Netflix

  • Anonymous

    There are dozens of anime on Hulu and Netflix, and A:TLA still makes the list?  It’s a great show, but there are tons of great actual anime out there that could’ve taken a slot of an already well-known show.

  • Lisa Jonte

    Man, I have adored the Slayers for years.

  • gia manry

    Good list! Other titles I would suggest: Gurren Lagann (it’s a sort of “Manly Men” show but I’ve never seen one that inspired so much optimism and hope, at least not in such a time of skepticism and snark), Black Lagoon (you wanna talk badass women? This one features them as top mafia leaders, mercenaries, assassins, and smugglers, and they truly lethal), and Eden of the East. I’m not really sure if these are currently/still available streaming though.

    If anyone’s really into anime (or wants to be), I strongly recommend trying out subscriptions to and for a pretty vast library of stuff.

  • AndrewMtC

    Now only is it more awesome than its predecessor, but FMA: Brotherhood also has one of the coolest female characters in anime, Olivier Armstrong.
    She is never even seen in the first anime adaptation, but she’s a major – and in my mind the best – character in Brotherhood.
    You can also watch the entire series on officially/legally on YouTube, which is convenient:

  • Chris Adamson

    Actually, Crunchyroll is free (ad-supported) for all but the latest episodes, so it’s perfectly cheapskate- and beginner-friendly, with the caveat that nearly all its shows are in Japanese with English subtitles. Also, unlike Hulu+, its iOS app fully supports AirPlay, so people with AppleTVs can stream to their living room HDTVs.

    Good places to start on Crunchy: the jazz-obsessed slice-of-life drama “Kids on the Slope”, the slightly supernatural teen angst-fest of “Anohana”, and the deconstructionist fan favorite “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”.

  • Anonymous

    Where is Cowboy Bebop? 10 years ago I watched my first episode and it changed my entire perspective on what anime actually is. The story is engaging, the characters (especially the background ones) are ethnically diverse, the English dubs are perfection and the music is mesmerizing. 

    Seriously, for shame.

  • Chris Adamson

    Cowboy Bebop isn’t on Netflix or Hulu, so it’s technically ineligible for this list (although, if you’re visiting with a computer and not a mobile device, Hulu will link you over to, where Bebop can be streamed easily and legally)

  • Ashton warren

    I love Olivia Armstrong, however, the beginning of FMA brotherhood doesn’t always make sense to people because it kind of assumes you read the manga or watched the first FMA. So you might have to watch that for the first 15 episodes then switch over to Brotherhood if you’re completely new to the series.

  • mea.glitch

    Major General Armstrong was an amazing character.  The only reason she and a few others didn’t appear in the first FMA series was because the first series got so far ahead of the books it had to take on a new plot approved by the author (so I hear).

    (BTW: just wanted to recommend Tiger & Bunny.  I caught it on Hulu a while back and greatly enjoyed it.  It’s quite fun and even has some interesting commentary about a lot of things, including female superheroes and marketing)

  • Daniel Dellinger

    Three words: Watch Princess Jellyfish.

    More words:  Tsukimi is an awkward, jellyfish-obsessed girl who lives in a “nunnery” with a bunch of other awkward, obsessed girls. Her life suddenly changes when she befriends a stylish cross-dressing son of a politician. An entertaining series with themes of body image, public personas, and what really makes a person beautiful. See it for free at

  • AndrewMtC

    Yup, that’s exactly what happened…and the continuation/conclusion of the first anime’s story, while fun, makes a whole lot less sense than the manga’s/Brotherhood’s.

  • Anonymous

    Gurren Lagann is great b/c it subverts the Manly Men and Giant Fighting Robot tropes of anime.

    Seriously almost everything in that show is either a phallic object or a metaphor for gay sex.

  • Anonymous

    I completely skimmed over the Netflix/Hulu part. Those words literally didn’t even register because a pirates life for me.

  • Joanna Beatty

    i highly recommend the series “Claymore.” 
    in the narrative, the only people who have the strength to defeat the demons plaguing humanity are women who have been made half-demons themselves. once they reach a particular point in strength, they change over completely & lose themselves in the process. at this point, the “organization” responsible for their creation & handling issue an execution order. the women are able to tell when the time is near as well & sometimes choose to end their own lives (or, as in one case, ask a friend to do it for them). 

    incredible fodder for discussion regarding female identity, demonizing women’s strength (can’t get “too” strong, after all), ostracizing the women who choose to buck tradition & carry the sword, etc. very highly recommended, although at times very difficult to watch.

  • AndrewMtC

    You know, I would disagree with that, honestly. I think the first chunk of episodes in the original FMA have more space to breathe and are more emotionally effective (especially with regards to Maes Hughes), but all the necessary plot points are still well-covered in FMA:B. The start of Brotherhood is a little more snappy, because yeah, they didn’t want to bore us old-timers too much, but I don’t recall anything important being glossed over or left out. 

    Watching the two right in a row might get kind of boring, I think. I like that I had that 5-or-so year span between watching them, so that coming back to the story was nostalgic for me. 
    All that said, I also often recommend that people watch both series, because the first definitely forces you to fall in love with those characters, and it has a fun and insane story all its own.

  • Anonymous

    I have to recommend Shikabane Hime which is available on Hulu. The main character is a male monk, but it’s unique because he must partner with a (dead) girl and work together with her in order to do his job.

  • Anonymous

    I included A:TLA politically — it is one of the few anime within the purview of this list that isn’t totally whitewashed and it actually features women of color, so it was important to me to showcase it. I don’t mean to say that other anime don’t, just that many anime characters approximate whiteness and A:TLA explicitly refrains from that, which is amazing and worth all of the commendations ever. :)

  • Anonymous

    I really love anime, but sometimes feel lost and unsure of what to watch next. I’m a big Inuyasha fan, as that’s where I got my start, but I’ve recently begun watching a bunch of others like Fruits Basket, Blood +, and Elfien Lied. I really liked Ga Rei:Zero. Talk about women kicking butt! So, thanks for posting this and giving me all these new shows to check out. 

  • Inky

    Good list! A few of my favorites are on here, and I just finished the first season of Slayers and it was excellent (although I do agree that the Japanese dub is much better.)

    A few others I’d like to recommend are Princess Tutu (streaming legally on YouTube, look for the channel AnimeNetwork), Baccano! (on Hulu), Angel Beats (Netflix) and Puella Magi Madoka Magica (on Crunchyroll).

  • Anonymous

    I cannot begin to express my love for the Slayers. I grew up with it, and it definitely influenced me a lot. Don’t get me wrong, Sailor Moon is awesome. But THIS was the girl I wanted to be when I was 10. 

  • Michail Velichansky

    In the West you can probably make the argument that anime _might as well_ be whitewashed, since most viewers just assume the characters are white. But almost all characters are meant to be Japanese, or at least Asian.

    People get confused because they draw anime characters with such large eyes, but “slanted eyes” is a Western way of identifying Asian peoples, and not necessarily how the Japanese visually self-identify in their art. You can see the difference whenever they explicitly have a foreign character — we Westerners are often drawn very differently, and even non-Japanese Asians are drawn in distinct (sometimes stereotypical) ways.

    Japan has its own issues with racism, and darker-skinned anime characters are rare, but they’re not actually white. We just see them as white because the visual language is different. (And we think everyone wants to draw us or something.)

    There used to be an excellent video on youtube talking about this, but Sony took it down with a DMCA claim. Poo. :( Maybe I can dig it up from somewhere else…

  • Thomas

     Being Japanese cartoons for a primarily Japanese audience, anime isn’t attempting to whitewash anything. The characters are all Japanese. When anime attempts to insert a “token” white American, they’re often blonde and blue-eyed. If there’s no racial diversity in anime, it’s because Japan has a very different “mix” of ethnic groups. You could take anime to task for negative Chinese stereotypes, or for leaving minority Koreans out, but anime isn’t even attempting the diverse mix an American audience would expect.

  • Anonymous

    “darker-skinned anime characters are rare”

    My point exactly, though. And, while yes we’re to assume anime characters to be Japanese, the beauty ideas set forth for many, many characters often include white skin, light hair, and White European sensibility, which still mobilizes the language and reality of whiteness.

    So, to be specific, there’s a reason why post-industrial Europe or France is a popular setting or influence for anime, but anything in the Southern Hemisphere isn’t.

  • Helen the Dreamer

     Seconded! Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit focuses on a well-fleshed out and entirely kickass lead Balsa (who reminds me a bit of Kusanagi from the little bit of GitS that I’ve watched) and it’s a great high fantasy show.

  • Anonymous

    I was going to say FLCL, but you beat me to it. FLCL (no, it doesn’t stand for anything) is a six episode experiment by Gainax in which they poured the budget of an entire season of a regular anime into just those six episodes. If you watch, the anime features multiple types of animation (including a short South Park style scene) and has several shout-outs to other anime by Gainax.

  • Anonymous

    list, but no Last Exile?

  • Anonymous

    You’re right, but anime does in fact include myriad influences of whiteness — even on this list, see Le Chevalier, FMA’s setting, Ouran’s setting and sensibility. 

  • Herekitty

    This is a stellar article! I appreciate the insightful and concise analyses of each series. Thanks, Kellie!

  • LeosBoots

    Uh, I definitely would advise against Stand Alone Complex.  It has some good story elements but the feminist in me rages any time I watch it because there are too many shots of Makoto focuses on her tits and ass, she has unnecessary shower scenes, and for some reason she is the only one that runs around in a bathing suit and coincidentally the only female member of her team.  It’s like they’re saying “Yes, you can be a smart, strong, independent woman BUT you also have to exist for the pleasure of our male audience”.

  • Thomas

     Le Chevalier d’Eon takes place in France, so most of the characters are French. I believe FMA is supposed to have a tension between a Western-inspired bloc, and a more Middle Eastern group of countries, but Ouran takes place entirely in Japan.

    Also, most of those “people of color” in Avatar are voiced by white voice actors. So whitewashing is still taking place in a major way as far as talented actors of color are concerned.

  • Anonymous

    Ouran does take place in Japan, but the setting is largely influenced by white Europe.

    And you’re right re: Avatar, and it sucks! 

  • ainok

    I saw part of Chevalier! It was pretty neat in its storytelling–not at all what I’d expected. I second the recommendation.

  • Kal

    12 Kingdoms has great female characters. I’m not sure if it’s on netflix. Beast Master Erin is also great. It hasn’t been dubbed yet.

  • Maeve

    What about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya?

  • Anonymous

    Agreed! Princess Jellyfish is wonderful ♥

  • Anonymous

    This is a good list but what about Revolutionary Girl Utena? 

  • Chris Adamson

    Utena is not on Hulu or Netflix, ergo not “easy to find” by this article’s fundamental premise. At least there’s a nice new DVD release from Right Stuf… a year or two ago, watching Utena would have been highly problematic.

  • Chris Adamson

    Haruhi is not on Hulu or Netflix, ergo not “easy to find” by this article’s fundamental premise (it is available on Crunchyroll, FWIW). Also, it’s more a favorite of entrenched anime fans than something that would interest a Mary Sue passer-by.

  • Chris Adamson

    Thanks, Inky. All four of those are wonderful recommendations… perhaps with the caveat that Baccano! is absurdly violent, and told out-of-order to boot.

  • Anonymous

     I have to agree with those who think you made a mistake including Avatar on this list. You included it because you wanted to promote a show with dark-skinned characters, which is welcome. But on the other hand, isn’t Avatar somewhat problematic for being, well, a show made by white people based on their stereotypical ideas about Asia? Wouldn’t it have been better to replace it with a show made by *actual* Asian people? Yes, there’s the skin tone factor, but there’s got to be at least one Japanese animé out there with dark-skinned characters…

  • Anonymous

    If I could have included Korra, I would have, which is actually animated by a Korean animation studio, Studio Mir. 

    I still think Avatar gets a lot of things right re: color and diversity of ethnicity and it really shed light for a lot of fans of animated series how rarely people with dark skin are featured in animation. 

    It’s certainly problematic for the reasons you state though, but I don’t think it makes it unworthy of inclusion, largely because I have yet to find a popular animated series that features darker protagonists.

  • Anonymous

    You can watch it on youtube though! Nozomi entertainment has the entire series on their channel :)

  • Anonymous

    Since you mention Brazil and female characters of color, be sure to look out for Michiko and Hatchin when it’s released. It’s not available in English yet, but it has been licensed for release. Not only is the series set in Brazil, but the series features a female duo as the leads and Michiko is a beautiful, badass lady of color.

    As for characters of color, it’s hard to hold Japan to the same standards of diversity as America. For one, it’s a much smaller country with a lot less diversity when you compare it to the melting pot that is America. The problem in America is that we have a large variety of ethnicities here that are vastly underrepresented in the media. Not that there aren’t a variety of ethnicities in Japan, but the problem in America stems from our ignoring that America is not predominantly white whereas Japan is fairly homogenous, being a small island country.

    Racism is racism no matter how you slice it and I’m not trying to defend Japan b/c they have their own racial issues (hoo boy, do they), but I just don’t think you can hold every other country up to America’s standards when it comes to racial representation.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the suggestion! You also make a great point about differing standards for Japan and America, and when I was compiling this list I was definitely projecting my own experiences with race from the position of watching TV shows and anime as an American.

    Thus, in the global context of anime-watching, I apologize for including Avatar on this list. But in the context of an American viewership, I think it’s an important inclusion. 

  • Inky

     Yeah, not everyone’s going to love Baccano!, particularly if they can’t stomach the violence. Not all of the female characters in that are totally great, either (Lua is…ehhh, and I’m still unsure how I feel about Chane’s portrayal even though I sorta love her). It *is* a clever story, though, with a large ensemble cast that does have some pretty good female characters in it (…besides Lua).

    I was going to try to give plot summaries and reasons for each of those shows but I’m horrible at being concise and my original comment just felt WAY too long, so I cut ‘em out.

  • Anonymous

    My problem with ATLA on the list is that there are so many other decent series that are actually anime that could be listed here instead. I do love ATLA, but it is not anime and it’s popular enough I don’t think that there are really many people who come to this blog thinking, “I should check that out someday”. Not that they don’t exist. I just doubt people who haven’t seen ATLA at this point are a vast majority.
    This list is mostly a lot of series that even those who aren’t anime fans are somewhat familiar with. FMA and Ghost in the Shell have both been predominantly featured in the Adult Swim line up. I would have loved to see a list that does more than just scratch the surface of anime. There are a ton of great series that are actually available streaming online so to cover so many series that are already well-known and fairly mainstream is disappointing. However, I do appreciate Rideback, Kino, and Le Chevalier being mentioned. But here are a few great series that I think could have found a spot on this list or should have at least been taken into consideration:

    Kids on the Slope (Crunchyroll, Hulu)
    Princess Jellyfish (Hulu,
    Chihayafuru (Crunchyroll)
    Moribito (Netflix)
    Lain (Hulu)
    AnoHana (Crunchyroll)
    Madoka Magica (Crunchyroll)
    Eden of the East (Netflix, Hulu,
    Gurren Lagann (Netflix, Hulu)
    Cross Game (Hulu)
    Natsuyuki Rendezvous (Crunchyroll)
    Wandering Son (Crunchyroll)
    Haibane Renmei (Hulu)
    Now and Then, Here and There (Hulu, Netflix)

  • mildred louis

    … What do the skin colors of voice actors have to do with anything? The relevance. It eludes me. 

  • mildred louis

    Forgive me if I’m wrong and am missing something but I did not really come across any horrid stereotypes of Asia. What I got from the show was a lot of research done to help influence the creation of a brand new world that is NOT our own world. So… I guess I’m missing your point, here.

  • Anonymous

    Well, my goal was to sort of “scratch the surface” for folks who literally have no idea how to start getting into anime by including a list of well-known, mainstream titles and popular ones within anime fan groups. But you’re right, and you provided a great list.

  • Anonymous

    Another is listed here and it’s only available on Crunchyroll, from what I know.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. :) I do understand and it’s a sort of tightrope between obscurity and mainstream, but I feel like listing series like FMA and GitS isn’t really introducing anybody here to anything they don’t already know. They’re both great series, this much is true, but even those in geek culture who are not as familiar with anime have probably had some contact with series like these. It’s not guaranteed, but it is likely. I feel like there are some other series that sort of straddle this line of mainstream vs. obscure a bit better than some of those presented here.

    And if this were the 90s, Slayers would have been another “too well known” series, but maybe not so much anymore? LOL!

    Edit: And something really more important than obscurity is accessibility to those in geek culture not into anime. :Accessability” as in something that those who aren’t anime fans could get into. In this regard, it’s a huge missed chance to mention Princess Jellyfish! If ever there was a show actually made for and about geek girls, this is it.

  • Anonymous

    Updated the list to include Wandering Son. :]

  • Anonymous

    Updated the list to include Wandering Son in lieu of ATLA. :]

  • Anonymous

    Updated the list to include Wandering Son in lieu of ATLA. :]

  • Anonymous

    Updated the list to include Wandering Son in lieu of ATLA. :] I haven’t actually watched Princess Jellyfish, but I’ll take a look since you mentioned it! 

  • Anonymous

     That’s excellent! :D And do be sure to check out Princess Jellyfish! I assure you it is not to be missed. ^_^

  • Kat Curry

    Also need to try Trinity Blood. It’s AMAZING!

  • Anonymous

    And when you think about it, a young girl leading around others on her adventures is remarkably progressive. I love me some Slayers!

  • Chatty Chatter

    i don’t care for your picks in anime 2 out of the 10 are ok but the others can be passes there is way better anime out there.

  • Helen the Dreamer

     Another might be on The Anime Network’s website but that’s definitely kinda obscure, I get the feeling that even most anime fans don’t know that there are some shows that stream entirely free on there.

  • Helen the Dreamer

     I had forgotten that Princess Tutu can be found legally (it might be on hulu as well come to think of it) which I would really recommend as well (it starts off as a standard magical girl tale with heavy fairy tale inspirations, reaches it’s happily ever after point in the middle and subverts everything to hell and back by the end). And Baccano! is just plain fun, I’m not a big fan of gore but I adored it’s out-of-order nature, I’d call it “Pulp Fiction if 75% of the cast was immortal with more violence and twice as out of order”.

  • Mark Brown

     Nitpick, the Major’s name is Motoko, not Matoko. I’m sure Batou will scream it out dramatically if you ask nicely. ;)

    Others have noted Moribito and FMA: Brotherhood, so I’ll bring in some obscure gems:

    Funimation has posted a whole load of older titles on Youtube, including:

    Bamboo Blade, which is about a highschool Kendo club (Kendo is basically Japanese fencing). It’s a lighthearted feel-good underdog story about a (mostly-female) cast of weirdos and geeks fighting their way to the championship, with the added weight of some pointed commentary about winning, losing, and heroic acts of geekery (the lead character is only interested in kendo because she’s obsessed with a kendo-themed superhero show).

    Bubblegum Crisis 2040 is also available (though, like Slayers, it’s a little dated-looking); it’s like Power Rangers gone cyberpunk, as an all-female superhero/vigilante team tries to take down runaway androids (and avoid the cops, who are owned by the very company behind the berserker ‘bots).

    Also up is Vandread, a sci-fi space-opera series, set in a universe where the battle of the sexes has turned to open warfare (both genders reproduce by cloning). It’s set up like a traditional harem series, but defies it (most of the “harem” are just as disinterested in the male lead as he is in them) and ultimately makes the point that it doesn’t matter at all what gender/sex/preference you are, as long as your friends can count on you.

    Available for free on Crunchyroll is Bodacious Space Pirates, which focuses on the daughter of a deceased space pirate captain –according to ship’s code, only a descendant can take over, which puts a high-school girl in command of a crew of hard-working professionals. The “pirates” here are basically actors (they’re contracted to put on a show for wealthy nobles; they get to keep the plunder, and the insurance companies pay out and raise premiums, so everyone’s happy). It’s action-packed and sits right on the border between hard SF and space-opera, with a healthy dose of Pirates of the Caribbean (in Space).

    Also available for free on Crunchyroll is the tragically under-recognized Erin, about (initially) a young girl who dreams of becoming a “beast-healer” (veterinarian specializing in large dragon-like war-mounts) like her single mother. Be warned, the series has a few “rip out your heart” moments, as Erin’s journey to adulthood is anything but easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is.

  • Anonymous

     I feel like everyone who visits this blog regularly would see some part of them in Princess Jellyfish.

  • Alex T

    YES! Not enough people know about Princess Jellyfish. It’s by far one of the best anime I’ve seen. It’s perfect for someone who reads this blog.

  • Alex T

    I’d definitely recommend Fruits Basket if you like stories that focus mainly on the characters. It’s about a girl who finds herself in the midst of the Sohma Family, who transform into animals of the Zodiac whenever hugged by the opposite gender. It actually has a deeper storyline, and can be very hilarious. It’s a great anime for beginners. Nothing confusing and it’s on Netflix and Hulu in English. 

    Also, Ouran and Slayers and both great! If you like one’s humor, you’ll probably like the other. Ouran itself is just so unbelievably quirky and lovable that it’s definitely one of the best anime you could start on.  

  • Jennifer

    Crunchyroll is also headed to PS3 soon, which is super exciting. Also, I just wanted to say I approve of your Kids on the Slope and Anohana recommendations. :)

  • Jennifer

    I third this. I haven’t watched it, but I read the excellent light novel and have had the anime on my list for a while. Balsa is amazing! She’s also an older woman, which is refreshing.

  • Steven Ray Morris

    No FLCL or Paranoia Agent?

  • pin_weatherwax

    I also definitely recommend Seirei no Moribito (guardian of the spirit) It is about a woman guardian Balsa. (Also I think that Korra would be just like Balsa when she grows up >< )

  • RodimusBen

    For neglecting to mention Revolutionary Girl Utena, the most ambitious postmodernist fairy tale in recent memory, this list fails.

  • Ashe

    Agh, so happy someone mentioned Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit! I was beginning to fear I was the only one who’d seen it. :)

  • Chris Adamson

    A lot of stuff on The Anime Network is first one or two episodes free, the rest for subscribers only. TAN is also on many cable and satellite systems as a VOD channel, but what’s available there is ever changing, so you can’t really say “go check out show X on TAN” if it’s only going to be up for a month.

  • Chris Adamson

    Nice catch on “Bodacious Space Pirates”… it’s different because it’s so easy-going good-natured, and optimistic, maybe to a fault. Also passes the Bechdel test with ease.

  • Chris Adamson

    I totally love Chane in “Baccano!”, even though I see how she could be highly problematic from a feminist perspective.

    As for “Madoka Magica”, the way to sell that show is to link to the “Wham Episode” article on TV Tropes, where it’s noted that Madoka has SEVEN wham episodes in the course of a 12-episode series.

  • Chris Adamson

    Also, try to think of the last five minutes of “Angel Beats!” without crying. Dare you.

  • Katie

    If you like suspense, horror and psychological horror. I recommend “Monster”. It’s easy to find as all episodes are on youtube. Released by the people who made it themselves.

    It’s about a Japanese brain surgeon living in Germany that goes against his orders to save a small boys life. He finds out years later the the boy grows up to be a serial killer and believes because he saved him it’s his job to stop him. 

    I highly recommend not looking up spoilers because this series has some amazing twists in it.

  • MelBivDevoe

     Yes, love Fruits Basket!  I was going to recommend that myself.  It seems like a silly premise (well, ok, you could say that about a lot of anime) but it’s astoundingly deep and I’m not ashamed to admit it made me cry a few times!

  • Inky

    Paranoia Agent is one of my favorite anime EVER, and I would’ve mentioned it here in the comments, but I think it’s currently out of print. I don’t know if anywhere you can watch it legally streaming. Netflix doesn’t even have half of the DVDs anymore.

  • Inky

     Yep, your feelings basically match mine about those two shows! I adore fairytales that turn conventions of the genre on its head, so Princess Tutu is a huge favorite of mine. And although I’m normally not a huge fan of violence, the funny dialogue and larger-than-life characters really help keep Baccano! from feeling too dark even when the violence starts to ratchet up.

  • Inky

     Oh, evil! I’m going to have to try not to think about it now.

  • JC Ciesielski

    Which shows are on which format, Netflix or Hulu?

  • Inky

    Yeah, Chane’s actually my favorite female character in the series, buuuut I did want to admit that other people here might not like her much, particularly since nearly everything she does is motivated by her attachment to her father. (Although it seems to be mostly due to emotional abuse from him, and the show really portrays their relationship in a negative light and doesn’t pretend it’s healthy.)

    Oh man, I didn’t even realize that TV Tropes had considered 7 episodes to be wham ones! That show seriously threw me for a loop while I was watching it, I went in expecting there to be twists and it STILL caught me by surprise.

  • Anne Packrat

    You guys should point out there are two separate FMA series so people don’t get confused.  They are completely separate stories, not all one connected story like Slayers is.

  • Krystal Henderson

    I would definitely second (third?) Puella Magi Madoka Magica. For someone who grew up on magical girl shows, it can be downright TERRIFYING, but the girls still kick ass and there’s enough lesbian subtext that it’s practically maintext. I also liked how Madoka’s mother works and her father is a “house husband” which is a nice change.

  • Kate Polton

    Go I hate to be that person Who seems like they didnt read the artcle. (I did BTW) but Avatar:TLAB is NOT an anime. So why put it in here. I see what you mean by its one in spirit. But it just isnt.

  • Alex T

    Yeah, It’s gotten me very emotional sometimes too!

  • Anonymous

    HOLY CRAP YOU ARE SO RIGHT! Why didn’t Serei No Moribito make it on the list???

  • Anonymous

     I know it’s pretty spanking new, so not a lot of folks have heard of it (if you don’t follow fansubs like a bloodhound) then I’d like to mention Moretsu Pirates – a giant, almost entirely female cast set in the far future of space where a young girl must take up the mantle of a space pirate captain of an ancient privateering ship – and still keep up with her space “yacht club” and highschool studies. A huge number of strong women, pirates and students a like, and while the tone is pretty light hearted, it’s a pretty darn entertaining show – and features an openly lesbian couple that everyone views as pretty normal (as it should be). Worth a peek when it filters across the ocean! 

  • Anonymous

    I loved Wandering Son. Thanks so much for including it!

  • Anonymous

    Eff yes for the Kids on the Slope! (Sakamichi no Apollon) One of the best I’ve seen in years!

  • Sarah Allis

    I’m going to give a call out to Mushishi.  While it’s main character is a guy and there aren’t a ton of female characters, it’s an amazing series.  The episodes stand largely on their own and don’t contain much in the way of violence.  It’s one of the few anime series that leaves me feeling kind of chilled out after watching.

  • Francesca M

    God remember my first anime I bought cost me $27 on VHS. I think I got  2 episodes on it??

  • Natasha Dythia

    I also enjoyed watching High School of the Dead – Vampire Bund – Rosario+Vampire and Shuffle  all on Netflix all very good IMO

  • Layne Magic

    Tiger and Bunny should have been tops on this list, man. The main character is a single, approaching over-the-hill dad who works as a super hero to support his daughter, working in a system where all the heroes are corporate sponsored and marketed to hell. It’s like Watchmen meets Teen Titans, 20 years before and after each series starts. 

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t have spoiled the cross-dressing part, since its such a great surprise at the end of episode one. (I was watching the show blind on hulu and that moment hooked me. I ended up watching the whole thing in two days)

    The one downfall of the show is that fact that it was never picked up for a second season to complete the story. Reading the rest of the manga has been on my to-do list for a while now.

    But to echo everyone else: YES. Watch this now. And tell all your anime watching friends to watch it as well.

  • Aidan Bird

    As much as I loved this list -  I feel like you missed an important element of Kino’s Journey.  The main character, Kino, does not specify hir gender until a few episodes in, where you get to see a bit of hir past.  What I loved about this show is that subversion of gender, and how Kino never specifies exactly what hir gender is.  Kino is often mistaken as male, and seems perfectly fine with this, and thus I’m left with this sense that Kino is actually transgender. That’s how I read hir character, and I found this gloriously refreshing for it is far too often that transgender people are erased from media, and have little to no roles that aren’t horribly stereotypical.  I guess I’m super surprised to see you not even mention this aspect of Kino’s character in your assessment of such an amazing show.

  • Eric McLeod

    I love you for bringing up Rideback. I’ve been trying to get my anime-loving friends into this hidden gem of a show.

    One of my favorite anime of all time happens to be Princess Tutu. On the surface, it may seem like another magical girl show, but it’s actually a very dark subversion on fairy tales while still being very kid-friendly. It starts out simple and cute, but it get very twisted and complex with its stories as it hits the second half. Duck is one of the most likable female protagonists in anime and her rival Kraehe is a great tragic villainess. It’s also another anime about ballerinas kicking ass, though much more fantastical than Rideback. 

    You can find it on Netflix Instant. It’s enjoyable for both kids and adults, so if you have a younger sibling or child you want to introduce to anime, this is a perfect choice. 

  • Elana Vaughan

    I remember coming upon Rideback on Netflix after I just finished another short anime that should really be on this list; one known as Noein. 

    There’s too much to say about Noein, and I honestly feel like they could have at least pulled out a second season, but I just recall completely falling in love with the adorable children and understanding their strong desire to run-away. They definitely did do well with characterizing the protagonists and really did have a shot at loyalty testing. The art alone was enough to make me pine for more the moment it was over.

    Rideback was what filled the hole Noein left. I couldn’t believe I had gone from one perfect anime to another so quickly. I can recall being skeptical of the show when reading the description and first happening upon the Riders, but by the end of the first episode, I was definitely hooked and I’m pushing my few anime-liking friends to watch both of these shows.

  • Anonymous

    Dosen’t one of the scenes go, “Quick, we must combine our mechas!”  “That will remain an output only port, thank you.”  :D

  • Anonymous

    Yes, and Kamina constantly refers to his “mighty drill” that will “pierce the heavens”

  • Alice Tordoff

    Pumpkin Scissors – Lt. Alice Malvin and her war relief group. Really cool, funny and with kickass characters.
    Cowboy Bebop – Space Cowboys/bounty hunters

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! My daughter has fallen in love with manga and anime through Miyazaki-movies and Avatar and I would love to introduce her to more of the fare, but it is a labyrinth to get through! Especially when it’s for a young girl desperate for great heroines to identify with. This gave me a couple of good tips, and some also for the future when she is a bit older.

  • Anonymous

    Cosign on Chevalier, Ouran, and Kino, although if we’re talking Hulu I believe they only have 2 episodes free for streaming of the latter.

    A few of these I’ve either not heard of or haven’t gotten around to checking out yet. All the more reason to get on that soon.

    But he fact that a couple of, well…stinkers made this list in place of Revolutionary Girl Utena is a total head scratcher. Slayers? About as generic as it gets. And I personally thought that the GiTC shovels loads and loads of technobabble and pseudo-philosophy (as opposed to the movie) in place of developing the characters or making me care about them. And NANA, well, NANA just kind of put me to sleep so I never made it past the first episode. Just not my cup of tea, so I can see how others might enjoy it. Same goes for FMA. 

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget that the characters are wooden, uninteresting and unsympathetic.

  • qw2

    Karekano it’s an oldy but I love it for ever, a very strong girl that has an image of perfect girl in front of everybody but she actually is lazy XD .. I’m not sure if that one is available on hulu or netflix but if you can get it I totally recommend it.

  • Carolyn

     FLCL (also known as Furi Kuri/Fooly Cooly) is by far one of the best anime of all time. And it’s definitely #1 on my list. The only problem is you have to watch the series a good 5 times before you can completely understand everything. Every minute detail is important. And it’s just crazy!

  • Shelley Adrienne Mimi Belsky

    Still no “Lum” or “Ranma 1/2 on the American continent.
    Whent will they ever learn?

  • SailorQuaoar

    My jimmies have been severely rustled.

  • idleprimate

     Why would it be wrong for americans to craft a story about the japanese?  Can a german not write a story based in Brazil?  Is it wrong if a chinese studio made a cartoon taking place in Australia?  what about anime featuring non japanese characters in a european country?  I swear, sometimes people whose focus is identity politics become so imperious.

    for the record, i’ve never seen ATLA, so i can’t speak to what stereotypes it might have, or how its depictions compare to any other fiction that would be similar in genre.  I do know it was a popular and well thought of show

  • Anonymous

     There’s nothing inherently wrong about writing a story set in another country. It’s just that if you want to learn about that country and experience its culture, you’re better off seeking out stuff that was actually made in that country, rather than relying on foreigners’ impressions of it, which are likely to be influenced by their own prejudices.

    I was a bit harsh on Avatar in my comment – I haven’t seen it either, so I can’t say whether it contains any offensive stereotypes. I should have held off from criticising it. But I think the basic point stands: this was meant to be list of animé recommendations. Avatar, however good it may be, is not an animé, but an American cartoon; for that reason, it didn’t belong on this list.

  • Karrah

    You should check out Claymore. I’m not sure where you can watch it, I borrowed my friends DVDs and own the manga, but it’s really cool. And it’s probably on Netflix or Hulu.

    There are deadly monsters called the Yoma who move town to town eating humans. The only people that can stop them are hybrid Yoma-human women who are called Claymores because of the claymore swords they carry. It follows Clare and Rakki and young boy who she saved in the beginning as they travel and it delves into her past. It’s mainly an action anime, but certainly gets very emotional, and shows that these half Yoma can have feelings too, and aren’t just pure bred fighters.

  • idleprimate

     i can understand disqualifying it as ‘not anime’ since this list is concerned with animation from Japan. 

    I’m a big fan of animation in general, and watch animation from all over the world, including Japan. As someone who isn’t exclusively an anime fan, it does always seem a little peculiar to turn nationality into a genre, or even a medium unto itself.  but i am used to the distinction people make and aware that Japan produces more animation than most countries.  America is by far the biggest player in the movie business, but it would never occur to me to think of movies as something peculiar to America.  i think i get put off by the term anime, which just means animation, and so by using it to mean japanese animation, it implies that true animation is from japan.  when i was young, we used to first say ‘japanimation’, which became japanime, and is now just anime.

    i think when wanting to learn about, and i use the term ‘learn’ loosely when talking about entertainments, a country the perspective of an insider and an outsider are both pertinent and would highlight things differently.  the resident and the foreigner will both have biases, prejudices and blinders.  they will each have things that stand out more or seem more distinctive.  I do think of a foreign perspective as being valuable

  • Beth Leclerc

    What about Nodame Cantabile or Honey and Clover!!?

  • PenguinGrenade

    Rideback is awesome!

  • Seraph Raham

    Trigun,  Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo.  That is all.

  • Seraph Raham

     Cowboy Bebop is on netflix listed under Cowboy Bebop:Redux.

  • Seraph Raham

    I’d suggest watching it.  It may be american, but it has all the spirit of an anime and a powerful story on top of that.

  • Anonymous

    Happy this was the first comment I saw after scrolling through the article thinking, “Where’s Princess Jellyfish?!”

  • Laura Girdwood

    I really like Noir – two kick-ass female assassins who unknowingly share a past.  An organisation is after them, sending out squads to kill them and manipulating their relationship through a third female assassin.  There is sexual tension between the assassins and ultimately they must make a choice: to stand together against the organisation or to kill one another.  The entire series is based around strong and extremely capable women, there are no major male characters – just empowered women.  The anime style is quite artistic too and thankfully, there’s hardly any fan service. 

  • Deceleration Waltz

     Good stuff. Princess Jellyfish is the bomb.

  • Deceleration Waltz

    I hate to nitpick, but Ghost in the Shell’s lead character is Motoko, not Matoko.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed! Though I get leaving it off if they were just limiting it to Netflix Streaming or Hulu.

    Utena is AMAZING, one of my all time favorite anime. I also really enjoyed the movie for it’s reinterpretation of the series itself. 
    Slayers was my very first and very beloved anime obsession. I believe you can stream it on Hulu with subs but they have two versions of the same episodes, so you have to look for the subbed version. The dubbed version is just terrible.

    Also Serial Experiments: Lain

  • Erin Edwards

    Kino’s Journey is one of my fav animes. Loved seeing it on this list!

  • Kari Pederson

    Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit is one of the most feminist animes I’ve ever seen! It definitely deserves a spot on this list. It’s about a female bodyguard who is tasked to protect a prince from killers sent by his father, the Mikado. It has beautiful animation and the characters are really well-drawn. You can watch all the episodes on Netflix.

  • Anonymous

    The first three in this list are awful, The rest I’ve never heard of. The only ones I can really recommend is Avatar and that’s not even technically anime. A couple I’ll recommend that can be found on Netflix are Spice and Wolf and Last Exile.

  • M. Elizabeth McIntyre

    To me, “women-friendly” does not necessarily mean that something has a “strong female character” (which is so often coded language for a stereotypical male action hero in a highly objectifiable/fanservicey female body), or queer elements, or anything like that. I’m just looking for a good story. It’s a bonus if its female characters are good, as long as I’m not actively enraged by how badly the women are handled.

    Does Monster count for being good, and for having a realistically impressive heroine in Nina, or does it fail because the women in it are deuteragonists at best and tend to be defined through the men in their lives? Nina is a kind person and a good shot, but she also spends much of the series on the verge of a psychological breakdown. Death Note fails horribly on all feminist fronts, and the English-language fandom’s tendency to hate what female characters it has is kind of wince-worthy, but it’s still about 100 times better than Slayers. The truth is that there’s a lot of shonen and seinen stuff that does have a “strong female character” or three (in terms of them being smart, or good fighters, or etc.–some of the ladies of Bleach are phenomenal) but is still not necessarily always “women-friendly” on the whole, if I’m understanding the premise of this list. They aren’t harem anime, but whether or not an individual woman likes them depends on what they can stomach–just like some people won’t be able to stomach the slice-of-life nature of NANA, or the protagonists’ romantic issues.

    Any list like this should begin and end with Utena, regardless of where it’s available: find a way to watch it, because you cannot have a conversation about women-friendly anime or queer-themed anime without it. Also, a lot of women still love Sailor Moon, in spite of its problematic elements.

  • Phil Gerrard

    and there i was thinking azumanga dioh(?) would get a mention

  • Mary Ellen Boudreau

    Michiko to Hatchin is another good one if no one has mentioned it yet.

  • Catherine Lundblom

    You can find at least the first season on :  Code Geass: Lelouch of the Revolution. 

    Should have made the list bigger to include such gems as Last Exile, Seirei no Moribito, Shoujo Kakumei Utena, Gurenn Laggan, Evangelion, Fruits Basket, Trinity Blood, Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain, Gankutsuou, Romeo x Juliet, Escaflowne, Blood +, Chihayafuru…and my all time favorite RUROUNI KENSHIN (which has a live action movie coming out this month)

  • Liz Bruhn

    Though the series is short, I would also recommend CLAYMORE as another fantastic anime with some very creative and strong female leads. It has monsters, conspiracy, and awesome swordplay. It’s on Netflix.

  • Paige MacPherson

    Thank you!  What a gem to stumble upon.  Like you mentioned, I’m a new anime fan, familiar with only Avatar: The Last Airbender and most of Hayao Miyazaki films, who has had trouble finding a quality show to watch. Ahhhhhh, I’m so excited to check out these shows!

  • Guest

    I take this list as an insult. The only anime in your list that is worth watching7 Stars is Fulmetall Alchemist. The rest is bullshit. Where is Kara no Kyoukai?Where is Angel Beats? Sorry but your list is ridiculous!

  • Anonymous

    I take this list as an insult. The only anime in your list that is worth watching is Fulmetall Alchemist. The rest is bullshit. Where is Kara no Kyoukai?Where is Angel Beats? Sorry but your list is ridiculous!

  • Hunter Rose

    surprised not to serial experiments lain on there.

  • Octochan

    Azumanga Daioh should be on here. It’s about a bunch of ordinary girls in school doing ordinary things, and are really funny. They don’t do magic, they don’t save the world, and despite being in a regular school, boys don’t figure into their lives at all.

  • Louis Gonzales

    Kino’s Journey is a fantastic anime series! :D

  • Anonymous

    Eh, that would be Motoko, not Matoko.

  • ichini

    watch any anime on good anime or lovely anime they have loads of anime list

  • Anonymous

    Wait….. Matoko is queer? I must have missed something because I don’t think her sexual orientation was ever confirmed.

  • Anonymous

    “rather than relying on foreigners’ impressions of it, which are likely to be influenced by their own prejudices.” Listen it’s wrong to assume that foreigner who writes a story about another country is doing it solely out of prejudice. As opposed to doing research on the country/culture or actually being there.

  • Anonymous

    “I have yet to find a popular animated series that features darker protagonists.”
    Well, there’s Bleach, DBZ, Cowboy Bebop, Deadman Wonderland, and those are just off the top of my head.

  • Cassandra Stout

    Wait, no one mentioned Princess Tutu? Sure, it looks sugary on the outside–they do ballet battles, for Pete’s sake–but that’s before you realize how genuinely abusive most of the characters are.

    The main character is a young girl–who is actually a duck? and also a magical girl, just because–trying to actively save a heartless boy from another girl who doesn’t want him to change. Then there’s the boy’s friend, who threatens *everyone* under the guise of masculine protection–until he realizes that is absolute crap and struggles with changing his habits to save the first girl, who he’d planned to kill. Seriously, this series is chocolate vodka with a chaser of Fridge Horror.

    English dub with English subs is on Netflix.

  • Shelly Valladolid

    Urusei Yatsura. Project A-Ko. Dirty Pair. Captain Harlock. Space Cruiser Yamato. Galaxy Express 999.

  • hailey

    Fruits basket!!!

  • Commlink

    What did you base your reviews of fan subs, company subs or dubs?

    If your looking for other story’s, animes that have a good female presence aside from the usual harem you could try:

    Fairy Tale(Tail?)
    Black Lagoon
    Angel Beats
    Fate/Stay Night

    Each anime listed are unique in their on way, while fairy tale stands to be the odd one out especially as its aimed at guys. The writer does well to give strong female characters that hold up to there male counter parts not giving into the usual stereotypical female behavior seen in most series.

  • Kawa

    This list is pretty excellent! Ghost in the Shell is probably my favorite thing in the universe, precisely because Motoko is so complex and badass and lovely (and canonically bi/pansexual, according to the manga!) It has its own issues – why aren’t there more ladies in Public Security? Why are most of Motoko’s outfits so designed for the male gaze? – but considering its background it’s still absolutely lovely. (And the animation quality, soundtrack, and complex plots help too.)

    For those looking for more suggestions, Steins;Gate is on Crunchyroll. It’s got lots of wibbly wobbly timey wimey goodness, a confused androgynous character handled sensitively, a male/female Platonic friendship full of depth and sweetness, and another female character who is the smartest, funniest, and most awesome character in the room – and she’s an Actual Scientist, published at a young age and well respected. (And she’s my Minecraft skin, so there’s that…)

  • Constance

    Thank you for pointing out that Avatar is NOT an anime. I get so tired of having that conversation with people.

    One that isn’t easy always easy to find, but definitely worth a look, is “The 12 Kingdoms”. And don’t go confusing it with “The 10 Kingdoms” – that’s something COMPLETELY different! It’s difficult to find a legitimate copy of “The 12 Kingdoms”, but it’s easy to find on youtube, and I highly recommend KickAssAnime’s subtitles for the show.

    WARNING: The main character (and hero) is an incredibly annoying, pain in the ass for the first few episodes. It took me a couple tries to start watching it. Give it a chance and you will be rewarded.

  • Melynda Scarborough

    That these anime are easy to find is great because you listed some pretty awesome stuff. I have to encourage folks to watch them in their original Japanese with subtitles. Also Avatar: The Last Airbender, might be the best series listed on this list. Legend of Korra should’ve gotten an honorable mention too.

  • Mary McCord

    I’m just sad that Princess Tutu isn’t on this list. Even if it is about magical ballerina princesses.

  • Case Closed fan

    Jellyfish princess why isn’t that on their and yet another is on their. Nana and a lot of the others are good choices though. also case closed is great

  • Samuel Saunders

    2) Hetalia!

  • Brheanna Hamer

    I love you! Slayers! Ahahah I watched it first in 2002 and I’ve been a big fan ever since! I also remember watching Ghost in the Shell when it was on YTV. FMA, and Ouran, too! And I consider Avatar an anime because the art style is anime. Art styles shouldn’t be confined based on the country of origin, no matter where it came from, anime included. Though it is one of the few non-Japanese anime or styled work that actually looks decent.

    I also heard of Kino’s Journey and NANA and the rest… thank you for informing me of them.

  • Vorked

    Really? Avatar? You do realize that is not an anime, as it was created in the States?

  • Vorked

    You do realize that Avatar TLA IS Western, right?

  • ladygrey

    I have to say Haruko from FLCL is one of the worst manic-pixie-dream-girl-types I’ve ever encountered. If those kinds of characters bother you, steer clear.

  • Petra Sphinx

    I came here to say SLAYERS!!! I can’t say enough good things about Slayers. I own all the seasons on DVD: Slayers, Slayers Next, Slayers Try, and the 2 new seasons Slayers Revolution and Slayers Evolution-R. Such good anime. Great characters. Hilarity, drama and adventure! And treasure! It’s like watching an epic dungeons and dragons campaign.

  • wowee

    “queer heterosexual romcom” hahaha what

  • spi

    Naruto. Guyver. DBZ. Death note. Cowboy bebop.

  • Tricia LaBeau

    I’d like to add Blood+ and Claymore to this list, I really enjoyed both animes and the main characters are strong ladies!

  • Cheyenne

    If you like Ouran high school host club and Rideback I suggest Kamisama hajimemashita

  • Leon J. Fletcher

    I think Black Butler deserves a spot on this list

  • RockSteady

    This list is for marysue crowd. No wonder it sucks.

  • Terence Ng

    It is in the manga, sort of. It’s basically explained that when people with synthetic bodies have sex with one another, they have to interface with a same-sex partner, because the synthetic bodies can only process stimulation that happens to the same type of body. So a male body and a female body would cause painful feedback to both partners. So I guess people with cyber bodies have to enjoy one another either male-male or female-female. There’s an explicit scene int he beginning of the manga, which was removed in most copies, of Makoto engaging in sex (a show?) with one or two other female models.

  • kyle

    I think most anime characters are…you know,…Asian? probably Japanese?
    if they appear white to the western eye….that’s kind of racist

  • Benjamin

    Surprised not to see Naruto shippunden

  • Thayet

    I fail to see why characters with extra UVA/B/C protection should be voiced by actors with the same coloration.

  • Thayet

    One character of color makes it all better. Now I feel represented.

  • Anonymous

    “One character of color makes it all better. Now I feel represented.”

    Actually, it’s more than one character. If you actually seen any of the shows I’m talking about you would that already. Please, don’t talk unless you actually know what you’re talking about.

  • Thayet

    I think you are assuming that I believe that everyone should be represented based on their skin color or specific features. What I was trying to point out is that skin color isn’t the issue, diversity is. I realize that japan is an island and doesn’t have the same access to the amount of diversity that I might see where I come from but I dont think thats a reason to shy away from a larger world view in anime especially anime based in a modern or sci-fi setting.

    I think its pretty obvious that I care how many diverse characters are in an anime but if you want me to spell it out for you I can. Maybe you were confused when I said a character of color. What I mean by that is anyone who isn’t caucasian (Caucasians include Persians). As to how many that would be exactly that depends on the number of characters in an anime and where the anime was set. If its modeled after 1200 b.c. europe I understand if the characters are all caucasian. If its set in modern day anything I expect to see some variation in ethnicity because there are planes and people travel. A lot of animes I’ve seen are set in port cities or other areas in trade paths and there should be a large variation in at the very least cultures if not ethnic groups.

    A lot of animes, in my opinion, dont adequately adress culture or ethnicity. Instead they toss in an exotic character, someone who looks different and does different things from the other characters (who all share a common culture for some reason) and adds a little sparkle and intrigue to the dvd cover. For instance in bleach where there are two obvious culture differences and considering how old shinigami are, there should be a difference in ethnicity as well (assuming that japan has changed in the last couple thousand years). I know bleach is action and shonen but that isn’t an excuse to have plot holes like a spaghetti strainer. The two cultures seem to clash at first but as soon as the ichigo crew rescues Rukia soul society is on the same wavelength and their cool with whatever Ichigo and friends want to try as long as it fits the plot devices they call morals.

    And how you came to the understanding that I didn’t know what I was talking about with only 12 words and a username is almost impressive. I’m not going to say that you dont know what you are talking about but you did make some assumptions based on very little information which, I believe, would make you the hypocrite.

  • Anonymous

    “What I was trying to point out is that skin color isn’t the issue, diversity is.” My point that you clearly missed is that you seem to care less about diversity and more about how many character represent you.

  • Thayet

    What is the point of this exactly?

    Neither of us are going to change our opinions.
    We could send snarky comments back and forth until one of us hunted down the other and killed them but that seems a tad drastic. I think you are a fucking moron who isn’t willing to consider anything outside of your own narrow minded experience (I feel better just saying that) you may think the same of me but I have a life and I’m going to take a wild guess that you do to and I dont actually glean any sort of pleasure arguing with you. So let’s agree to disagree or not agree at all and never talk to each other again, I vote the latter

  • Anonymous

    “What is the point of this exactly?”

    The point is that your wrong. I thought I explained why…you either didn’t understand it or too stubborn to admit that you were wrong.

    “So let’s agree to disagree or not agree at all and never talk to each other again, I vote the latter.”
    I’m for the former and for the latter.

  • TheBestFemminestEver

    One great one is called Rosairo + Vampire.

    (It follows the story of a female vampire who has to deal with other monsters stealing her man! It is NOT degrading at ALL to women, and you will not be offended! Promise!)

  • Kiki

    Regarding A:TLA being one that shows PoC- technically, ALL anime/manga characters, unless otherwise specified or existing in a made-up world that lacks the racial distinctions of Earth, are PoC. They’re all Japanese, no matter how “white” they look.

  • Bette Galloway

    add The Legend of Korra as an honorable mention as well as Ranma 1/2

  • Mari

    Not true. I’ve only watched FMA:B when my friend recommended it to me and I understood it totally with no prior knowledge to the series. I haven’t even watched FMA yet… Though it’s been on my to-do list for awhile.

  • Wonder Mike

    Gurren Lagann is the best damn giant robot anime ever.

  • Anonymous

    I had no idea that there was an anime for Wandering Son! The manga’s coming out from Fantagraphics right now, and while it’s not perfect, yeah – check it out. (And I’m gonna start watching the anime!)

  • Marie

    Interesting…. every anime mentioned and described focused on the female parts and sexual orientation. Like, omg they’ve got, like, strong female characters who are like, totally cool with their like sexuality and are omg gay and awesome and strong and screw men! who needs men! booo male establishment. Ugh. Tumblr would be all over this article in 2.5 seconds.

  • S A

    couldn’t find another :(

  • ReturnerMike

    Actually, for $7 a month (like Netflix) you can get their premium anime channel and watch it on PS3 and Xbox360. Highly recommended.

  • Colin

    I’m way late on this, but the Genshiken anime is both squirm-inducing and hilarious in its unblinking portrayal of both male and female anime nerds. Better yet, read the manga.

  • Lara Richardson

    It might be a little controversial in regards to “feminist” but Mononoke (no affiliation with Miyazaki) a gorgeous, kabuki-esque anime that plays out in a way similar to Mushishi–the supernatural and non-continuous arcs, with only the androgynous Medicine Seller at the center of it all. Each arc in someways deals with overt and subverted forms of misogyny and gender oppression…hauntingly relevant given the ancient Japanese setting.

  • CafeEileen


  • jade jimenez

    Can’t we just pay attention to how good a show is rather than what color they are? Who cares?

  • Nichole

    This is great! I’m relatively new to anime, and this list has some great looking suggestions, and I know you must have good taste because 3 of my favorite animes are on here! :D

  • showman

    how about…. full metal alchemist “brotherhood”, darker than black, code gease, steins gate, avatar last air bender even legend of korra, tengen toppa gurren lagan, better choices by far…. but i guess since i dont even rate ghost in a shell..

  • Anonymous

    I thought she was bi-sexual in the manga?

  • Anonymous

    She might be. The example I’m mentioning is just an example of her engaging in same-sex activity. So she could very well be bi.

  • Tim Henderson

    Seriously, watch Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit or Serei No Moribito (eng/jap titles)

    Strong female protagonist and some great female supporting characters. She’s not girly or sissy and there isn’t any Ero to make things awkward. Straight story based on the first book of a series I’d love to see the rest of animated.The world is very well realized. It’s animated by Production I.G., which does quality work every time they touch something. It’s full of action and adventure in a fantasy Asia (kind of like if Avatar: The Last Airbender was made in Japan but with less magic)

    What is not to love? You can stream it for free legally from Crackle. Supposedly Neflix US has it too.

    I’m from Canada so I don’t get Hulu like you lucky folks.That and out Netflix also kind of sucks (WAY less titles available on it)

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  • Yoyoyo

    Two words… Or, more like three… No wait, four…

    Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.


    Shit just got real.

  • Yoyoyo

    And, lol. This is like a twitter for animetards. Me? I’m a full on Narutard (Big time Naruto fan). I also like One Piece, Black Butler, Kamisama Dolls, Oh my Goddess, Kore wa zombie desu, Rock Lee no Seishun (Also called Naruto SD: Rock Lee), Kill me Baby (Kiru Mi Beibe), Tonari no Kaibutsu (My Little Monster), Seakiichi Hatsukoi (World’s Greatest Love in a Nutshell) etc…

  • Andrew Houser

    Biased much? they almost all consist of feminist ideology. I don’t know if i clicked the wrong link, but this isn’t really what im looking for the only one that peaked my interest is “Another”

  • Anonymous

    Da ga… otoko da.

  • Paul Gauthier

    The only thing that sucks more than anime are these stupid, lazy top 10 lists.

  • Karen Sch

    Slayers is my favorite animu of all time (if I had to decide) so I’m really pleased to see that other people remember it exists and is hilarious! IMHO it aged really well… while the style’s a bit 90s, it strikes me as sort of unlikely that anyone not watching anime in the 80s/90s knows that. XD The actual animation isn’t super smooth or anything, but cheap animation still exists today, as do cartoony backgrounds, so other than being a bit lo-res I’d say it doesn’t look too bad. Plus, with a series that is based entirely on comedic adventure nonsense, I frankly don’t think it really matters what it looks like. I mean people watch Adventure Time and Adult Swim shows and other modern flash animation-esque stuff that looks like complete crap, artistically and in terms of production values. Why? Because those things have good scripts. (Supposedly. XD I don’t watch most of them… But look how great Harvey Birdman is, and it was purposely animated to look like crap.)

  • Karen Sch

    oh I guess if I had things to add to this list… Princess Tutu? The most bizarre of the ballerina animus. XD It’s about a little girl who turns into a duck sometimes and goes to this ballet school and uhh evil beings are controlling everyone and… something messed up? Anyway it’s weird but cool and cute, look into it! I’d say the same about the show “Tenshi ni Narumon” although I would not look there for feminist stuff (the main chara is this extremely retarded girl who makes everyone better as a person because she’s so full of light and innocence and crap… it kind of reinforces stereotypes, although positive ones, about the role women are supposed to play in society?). But it gets really weird and fucked up and the rest of the cast, other than main girl and “dumb schoolboy you’re supposed to identify with,” are extremely bizarre people, so I’d recommend it. XD Ohhhh and then there’s “Brother, Dear Brother” (aka “Oniisama E”) which is an old shoujo manga/anime about a girls’ school (the main character writes letters throughout to this guy she sees as a big brother, hence the title). At the school, we’ve got 3 girls who all the other girls worship: the cool sporty chick, the upper-class princess, and of course the beautiful-but-cracked poetic gothy crazy chick. There are lesbian hijinks and obsessive people throwing boxes of razors and stuff. Lots of psychological drama and suicide and whatthefuckery. XD

  • Karen Sch

    oh and BASARA. How did I forget this oldie-but-goodie?! Uhhhh warrior kid and his sister live in a sort of post-apocalyptic Japan with lots of desertland. The boy is supposed to be the “child of prophecy” or who’s gonna lead the armies and take back the land or something like that, so when the bad guys hear this, they show up and — as any non-moron would — murder him. His twin sister takes on the role of prophecied hero (by dressing in drag as is always the case) and learns sword-fighting and all that so that the people don’t lose hope. She hopes to avenge his death etc. It’s better as a manga since the animu is a 6-ep OVA, but look into it!

  • James McCormick

    My problem with Azumanga is that the characters have the depth of the priest, the minister, and the rabbi in your typical bar joke. After all, the whole series was little more than a set of 5 minute, one-gag sketches that needed the characters to remain basic so that the jokes would work.

    It’s not that it doesn’t do badly by the sketch comedy genre–it does that well. But if you want a show about character development, Azumanga isn’t it.

  • Luna Carya

    Some anime series that are currently broadcasting and are GOOD, and with great female characters:
    Shingeki no Kyojin
    Majestic Prince
    Aku no Hana

  • Kiano Kidstar

    Here are some really great anime they some the Best ever made .. Just a suggestion.. my favorites . and theres alot of Female Characthers with significant Awesome roles in some .

    Souleater, Bleach , Black Butler- Kuroshitsuji, Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate OVA, Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Fairy Tail, Code Geass, Death Note , Naruto Shippuden, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood .Another, Elfen Lied, Sword Art Online, Gintama, Darker than Black, D.Gray-man, High School of The Dead, Chrome Shelled Regios,

  • BabeWoreRed

    Forever love Escaflowne and (mainsteam and North American as it is) Sailor Moon, the later having left a serious impression on me even 15 years later.

  • Laszlo

    I don’t think that’s true. I don’t know much about this trope, but as far as I understand, the problem is that they exist only to provide character development for the male character, and I don’t think that’s true of Haruko. She does provide it, but she also has her own character, goals and agency.

  • Adam Cross

    I would love to watch anime on Netflix – but they don’t offer anything in it’s original language. I just can’t watched dubbed anime, the voice acting is always so lazy and emotionless, just can’t get into it.

  • HeroOfGames16

    Let’s see… My all-time favourite is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
    Other recommendations are:
    Persona 4 The Animation,
    Sword Art Online,
    Black Jack (21),
    Attack on Titan,
    Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (You just can’t say no to a hotblooded atheist who thinks he’s a giant robot),
    Code Geass,
    Neon Genesis Evangelion (if you’re feeling a bit mentally masochistic),
    Super Robot Taisen OG: Divine Wars,
    Super Robot Taisen OG: The Inspectors (you should also play the SRW OG games whose localizations are getting fought for by Operation Hotblood).

    I’m currently watching Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and it looks fabulous.

    Also, if you’re into crude humour such as South Park, maybe Panty & Stocking would be of your taste. For anime movies: The Girl That Leaps Through Time and Summer Wars.

  • HeroOfGames16

    I think the only way to know if they’re really Asian or not is if they live in an Asian country or something that’s dominated by Asian Culture… or just check if the name’s Asian.

  • HeroOfGames16

    Well, an anime can have sexist undertones but can still be enjoyable to the public nonetheless. But yeah, that’s my love-hate relationship with Shonen anime.

    It’s over-the-top presentation and character interactions are quite interesting, but the way how they handle romance or characters, especially female ones, is quite problematic. I assume that’s because of the whole “values dissonance” since the Japanese culture has its own views on gender roles and what the ideal men and women are.

    Women-friendly is pretty much a YMMV issue because it depends whether you see the highlighting of (stereotypical) femininity or lack of it as sexist or not — and also how whether fanservice is inherently sexist or not (I guess it is sexist when the female character in question is flat in character (no pun intended) and that the only thing that highlights her role or character within the show is her body).

  • Clint Blake

    Ranma 1/2 is the all-time best anime series. It’s a bit old now, but give it a shot if you haven’t already…

  • chrissypants

    Now, if only Netflix would get a hold of Sailor Moon that’d be perfect.

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  • n tung

    I enjoyed RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~ [ ]. It has queer (lesbian/bisexual/sadomasochist) themes, inversions of gender normality (like when Rin is touching Mimi and Mimi says “not with Maeno around”), and features crossdressing characters who aren’t treated as pathetic or silly.

    On the other hand, it did have a demonic (sexually abusive) intersex character, which I felt was somewhat disrespectful, considering what a relatively small minority intersex people are (uninformed viewers are hence likely to see the character as from a bad group, instead of as a morally deficit individual).

  • Cain S. Latrani

    I was a bit surprised at how many of these I’ve seen. Actually, just finished rewatching FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood, which features the extremely awesome General Armstrong.

    Gonna throw an honorable mention towards Fairy Tail, because of Erza, though really, all the Fairy Tail ladies are great.

  • WheelchairNinja

    Well, Netflix has culled their anime selection and now none of these 11 are available on instant streaming. It almost makes me think of switching to Hulu Plus. (Double-checks, sees that Hulu Plus doesn’t have The Avengers.) *Almost*…

  • Anonymous

    This is an old comment on an old article, but I’m going to have to disagree with that recommendation? And I can’t see how someone could make it if you’ve seen the first FMA recently. While there are similarities in the early episodes (and it’s actually the first 25 or so) of FMA 2003 to the manga storyline, there are enough small differences to set up for the later stuff that you would be confused if you watched those then switched to Brotherhood with no context. People who dislike the pacing of Brotherhood but prefer the manga storyline should encourage people read the manga up to that point then switch to the anime.

    But really, people should give the 2003 anime a chance, anyway. People forget that it was widely considered an anime classic for years until Brotherhood came out, and got the overall better critical reception between the two. Both storylines of FMA are good, but the 2003 anime works much better as a standalone work (without needing to read the manga) than Brotherhood does.

  • Anonymous

    It being closer to the manga doesn’t make it a better story; there are many many adaptations that are better for their deviations from the source material. To me, 2003 FMA is one of them; my preferences in fiction are just closer to it, I suppose. But people seem to forget it was considered an essential-to-watch anime for years before the second anime came out, and was far far more popular as well as more critically-acclaimed, when saying that everyone should watch Brotherhood.

    If you’re only going to watch the anime – and not read the manga – I also think 2003 is better for first-timers to watch, since the pacing at the beginning of Brotherhood can gloss over some important events, including some character deaths which should be far more emotionally-satisfying than they are in Brotherhood. I also think the things that make the two series different – 2003 being more character-focused than Brotherhood, and more morally-ambiguous – make the first series a better “gateway” series for people new to anime than Brotherhood, which is a more straightforward shonen adventure (if one of the best).

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, I’m glad they didn’t wade into that ancient debate by telling people which one to watch.

    Besides, most people should watch them both. Though they should probably start with the 2003 series, which is designed more for people completely new to the series. Brotherhood seems to assume with its early episodes that most people watching it have already seen the first anime or read the manga.

  • Anonymous

    Glad to see that you just said Fullmetal Alchemist rather than Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I’m not sure if you meant to recommend the 2003 series specifically, but if you did, thank you. It’s frustrating to see it being eclipsed by Brotherhood when, IMO, the 2003 series is by far the better adaptation, and my favorite anime of all time.

    Otherwise I’m just going to echo what others have said about: where are Princess Tutu and Puella Magi Madoka Magica? The former has since been removed from Netflix Instant, but it’s still available dubbed in its entirety on both YouTube and Hulu. Madoka Magica is available legally in its entirety on Crunchyroll.

    Cowboy Bebop is also pretty great, if not as oriented toward a female audience specifically. But it’s a good “gateway drug” for Western anime fans. And it’s not easy to find “legally” but is all over YouTube dubbed (which is the way to watch it).

    I might be the only one here, much as I love it, not to say Revolutionary Girl Utena because as fantastic as it is, I don’t know if it would be my recommendation to people who aren’t big into anime. Those first 10 episodes can be a bit of a slog before you realize how important they are.

  • Lamees Tayyib

    You have amazing taste, seriously. Wow.

  • Anonymous

    I would definitely agree that Brotherhood was more straightforward, but it also developed the characters as more realistic, three-dimensional figures. I’ve never read the manga, so I have no attachment to it, but the strategies were more comprehensive and realistic in Brotherhood. Plans, counterplans, and work of third parties coming together in a mess that the characters force to work as the stories unfold. There was also a better excuse for their survival than the brothers being ridiculously lucky.

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  • Harps

    You’re amazing. I’ve been looking for some interesting anime to watch for a while now and this list is excellent. Whenever you type those words into google you tend to find the generic list of shounen anime. Pleasantly surprised you made a focus here on female leads and gender issues. They can be near impossible to find.

  • Dr. Narwhal

    I recommend Log Horizon. It has some really great characters, including Akatsuki, a badass assassin character who is wonderfully relate able. Gamers will appreciate it especially so because it’s about people being trapped in an MMO, so the references are fun to catch.

    And of course, Attack on Titan. Incredible characters, story, and art. It single-handed oh got me back into anime, and has several amazing female characters :)

  • Anonymous

    “it also developed the characters as more realistic, three-dimensional figures”

    I have to disagree with this pretty strongly. In Brotherhood, the heroes were pretty unambiguously heroic, and the villains were completely villainous. In 2003, though, both the heroes and villains had complicated histories that at times made the heroes difficult to sympathize with, or made your heart hurt for the villains. The clearest example here was with the homunculi – who in 2003, had to grapple with “past lives” and all had different approaches to it, but in Brotherhood were basically just bad because Father said so – and also with Roy Mustang, where pretty much all his vices were faded out of his character in some way in Brotherhood. 2003 also depicted his trauma over his actions in Ishval far more realistically.

    Black-and-white heroes and villains is not BAD writing, of course, especially in a shounen action series that focuses more on intricate plotting. But “realistic, three-dimensional” characterization it sure ain’t.

  • Anonymous

    Nice to see someone else rec Kids on the Slope! That anime is underrated but one of my favorites. And probably a good one for anime newbies, since it’s a historical romance/friendship story that could easily be the plot of a Western teen drama, rather than the fantasy and sci-fi action spectacles that anime is known for among Westerners. Good way to introduce people to how diverse anime really is.

  • Anonymous

    I know I’ve been talking up FMA 2003, but FMA: Brotherhood actually has a significantly larger number of prominent POC characters, since another subplot is royalty from Xing (an analogue to China) coming to Amestris (the Western-European-based setting of the story) to obtain immortality in a competition for the Xingese throne. Since the main characters in FMA are white Europeans, the characters from Xing look stereotypically Chinese in order to contrast them.

    That said, FMA: Brotherhood’s plot has a far more problematic treatment of racism and how it comes about in society/how to go about fixing it that should be considered in any recommendation of it from a “social justice” perspective. (For an explanation of why, check out this excellent Tumblr post: It does include spoilers, however.) The first anime treats the Amestrian POC minority’s (Ishvalans’) struggle far more respectfully and realistically.

  • Anonymous

    I find it hard to come away from Brotherhood and see the heroes as unambiguous. The “Father” homunculus was a somewhat 2-dimentional character, but exactly like Dante in that respect – both embodying ambition without ethics. The other homunculi also remained fairly consistent. Greed grew further as a character in Brotherhood in an expanded but similar way to how 2003′s Wrath did, while Sloth is swapped out for a character we barely see. Bradley loses a little character development because his son is no longer human, but what he loses, his son picks up. Mustang because a more realistic character, with his flaws believable, rather than bouncing between stereotypes of the brooding soldier and the shameless flirt like a strobe light. Major Armstrong goes from being an insane body builder with a few calm moments to a very deep character whose tough facade belies someone who couldn’t handle the evils he was forced to do, and accepted shame within his family for it. Alphonse takes a more active role in his own story, rather than being just the straight man in a comic routine, with real feeling to his existential crisis rather than the sort of forced side-quest feel of the same crisis in 2003. Edward loses a lot of the insanity that went with his height issue. It’s still there, but he doesn’t turn chibi every episode for a running gag that wasn’t that funny the first time. In its place, we see him mature more over the story rather than the sudden teacher-driven shift in 2003.

    As to the resolution, I think you have some nostalgia issues with the 2003 series. Mustang ended with one lost eye instead of total blindness. Alphonse made the same sacrifice, though the aftermath was less severe, he was still left with a long recovery. Edward wound up in another universe (implied to be ours), with distinct hope given of returning home and after having known he would end up there from his previous trip. Hohenheim died in Brotherhood from his philosopher’s stone being used up in the battle, while he survived in 2003. He only dies later in a different fight in Conqueror of Shambala.

    The equivalent exchange is stated in both series to be a myth. In 2003 they point out the obvious – that the energy for the exchange isn’t taken into account, hence the alternate world. In Brotherhood, Truth takes something precious in exchange for opening the portal. Truth comments at Edward’s choice that he has made the right choice, sacrificing his power. This makes alchemy a closed loop, tying in to the overarching theme of circles and the oroboros of the dark side of alchemy embodied by the homunculi.

  • Ajà Besler

    Princess Jellyfish is available on Netflix in Canada… not sure about US Netflix.

  • Niala Terrell-Mason

    I would also suggest Attack on Titan as both feminist friendly and on Netflix. Not only does it have a really compelling storyline and cool animation (the titans are very disturbing with the style they use to draw them), but there are lots of female characters and they are incredibly diverse in terms of personality/roles.

  • zmortis

    Very true. Not all examples of behavior are role models to emulate. In the case of WataMote no one should want to be Tomoko because she is a very broken person in many ways. She is a collection of behaviors and attitudes many people don’t like about themselves.
    Yet the idea is that even though she has interaction difficulties due to cripling shyness combined with defensive retreat into hyper cynical evaluation of her peers, the series shows that at her core she is still a real person underneath her pretensions and obnoxious behavior paterns. Her world view may be distorted by her psycological condition, but she is still loved by her family.