It’s no secret that over the last few years anime has become an increasingly hard hobby to get into for multiple reasons. One of the biggest of those reasons is that so many series are now aimed at hardcore fans that it’s difficult to find one that the average person can get into without needing a wealth of background or specialist knowledge. What’s a person to do?
Fortunately, I’ve come up with this list of various series which will be (or have been!) released this year both on home video and on the internet that the average person should be able to get into without knowing a lot about the medium or its history. Hopefully you find at least one thing on these lists that you can enjoy!
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DVDs: Uta no Prince Sama
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Released: January 2014
In the first reverse harem series (one heroine, multiple boys) to be included on this list we have Haruka Nanami, who enters a special school which trains boys and girls to be idols and songwriters, to follow her dreams of becoming a songwriter for her favorite pop star. Over the course of twelve episodes, Nanami will work towards her goal while being pursued by various wannabe idols who all want her to be their personal songwriter.
Occasionally in my travels through anime land, I come across a series that absolutely takes me by surprise, and when I first viewed this series it did just that. Filled with great music and sweet moments,
Uta no Prince Sama is a joy to watch and re-watch, giving a very tongue in cheek look at the Japanese idol scene that nevertheless requires very little knowledge about that particular industry and segment of Japanese pop culture to enjoy.
DVDs: Fruits Basket
Released By: Funimation
Released: February 2014
Normally when creating lists like this you want to avoid placing two series of the same genre next to each other, but sometimes exceptions have to be made.
In the classic series
Fruits Basket, a young girl named Toru finds herself in trouble after her mother dies. Homeless and living in a tent in a forest, she is eventually discovered by the Souma family, who take her in and offer her shelter. Soon after moving into their home, however, Toru finds out their secret: whenever a member of the family comes into physical contact with a member of the opposite gender they change into an animal from the Chinese zodiac!
This is a much beloved series for very good reasons; it's very cute, sweet and can be shown to just about any member of the family regardless of their familiarity with anime or the Chinese zodiac. Toru is an endearing girl with an unbreakable spirit, a will to succeed, and a fdesire to make others happy. The characters that surround her are equally charming in their own various ways and will have you giggling and sometimes crying at their antics and adventures.
DVDs: Princess Nine
Released By: Right Stuf
Released: April 2014
This is an older series which just got re-released earlier this year and given new life. In this sports series, Ryo is a fifteen year old girl who loves baseball. Her entire world is changed when a prestigious high school approaches her with an offer that she can't refuse. The chairwoman of the board wants to form an all girls baseball team at her school with the aim of competing against the boys and winning the national high school championship, shattering gender barriers in the country of Japan. Joined by eight other girls, the Kisaragi Princesses end up facing constant adversity in their quest to win.
An all time personal favorite of mine,
Princess Nine is a series that features strong characters and a compelling story that makes the audience want to root for these girls throughout the entire twenty-six episode run. Don't let the sports theme scare you though; this is a series all about the girls coming together as a team and learning to work together despite coming from different backgrounds and experience levels.
DVDs: Attack on Titan
Released By: Funimation
Released: June 2014
A series for the adults in the audience,
Attack on Titan has taken the world by storm over the last year and a half since it first premiered in Japan, and now it can finally be yours on home video and in full English thanks to Funimation.
A hundred years prior to the start of this series, giant humanoid monsters appeared and drove humanity to the point of near extinction. Now humans are forced to live inside walled cities, often likened to caged animals, in an attempt to survive for just one more day. At the start of the series, that limited peace is brought to an end when two brand new types of titans appear and break through the protective wall surrounding the city that Eren Yeager and his friends live in. After watching his mother get eaten by a titan, Eren vows to be the one to bring them down by joining their version of the army.
Gripping and violent, this is an anime that you put on the television after you've tucked the kids into bed at night. It's also worth noting that only the first half of the series has been released so far to DVD and Blu-ray. The rest of the series can be found legally streaming on Crunchyroll and Netflix.
DVDs: Sailor Moon
Released By: Viz Media
Released: Fall 2014
For the young, or young at heart, comes another classic being given a brand new lease on life by Viz Media. A series which taught an entire generation harsh lessons about life, love and friendship,
Sailor Moon is coming back to DVD and Blu-ray later this year.
Sailor Moon starts with fourteen-year-old Usagi Tsukino, who meets a talking cat named Luna. This cat gives Usagi a magical brooch, which turns her into Sailor Moon, a superhero who must fight off villains from the Negaverse who seek to steal energy from humans to use for their own nefarious purposes. Along the way, Usagi learns valuable life lessons and meets many new friends who will serve her well over the course of the series' near two hundred episodes.
Considered to be one of the most classic examples of the 'magical girl' genre, Sailor Moon will be earning a place on many shelves later this year simply for the sake of nostalgia, but this is a series that deserves more than just a nostalgia buy.
Sailor Moon has stood the test of time and deserves to be shown to future generations as well. Don't let this one pass you by!
Streaming: Space Dandy
Released: Winter and Summer 2014
Wacky doesn't even begin to describe the adventures of Space Dandy... who is a dandy, in space. Working as an alien identifier, Space Dandy travels through the cosmos trying to find new species of aliens so that he can hit his favorite "breastaurant" one more time. Don't let anything that I just said fool you or scare you off, this is a comedy series that absolutely refuses to take itself seriously and neither should you. This is one for those in the audience who just want to laugh at some crazy, episodic sci-fi adventures and not have to worry about silly little things like episode-to-episode continuity.
Season one of the series premiered this past winter online and on the Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block. The second season will be premiering this coming July.
Streaming: World is Still Beautiful
Released: Spring 2014
Every season there are some gems that are worth pointing out and showing to everyone you know. This past spring the series that stood out the most was a charming fantasy rom-com called
World Is Still Beautiful. In this series, the main character is a strong and tough as nails princess named Nike who has the power to summon rain with a song. Thanks to this ability, she is betrothed to the king of the Sun Kingdom, only to find out when she gets there that King Livi is really just a kid.
Say that you're not interested in wacky sci-fi adventures... say that you're more interested in a tough princess who won't take crap from anyone and isn't afraid to get into a fight when the situation calls for it. In that case you'll want to watch this series and just get completely lost in the joy that it can provide. Funny and sweet all rolled into one, this is one that can be shown to anyone who enjoys romantic comedy but doesn't want to get weighed down by anything too sappy or melodramatic.
Streaming: Ao Haru Ride
Released: Summer 2014
Getting into the series that haven't premiered yet but have serious promise we come to this romance based on the manga of the same name,
Ao Haru Ride. The main character of this romance is a girl named Futaba who is entering high school with the intention of 'resetting' her physical image. In junior high she was 'cute', which caused her to be ostracized by her classmates. To make things worse, she was never able to tell the boy that she liked how she felt about him before he moved away. Once she enters high school though, she meets the boy once again. Will she be able to get her feelings across this time now that she's been given a second chance?
When I asked others about various series that they are looking forward to, this is series came up fairly often among the answers, credited to the manga having a solid reputation. While I personally have not read the manga myself, this is one series that I am looking forward to and hoping for the very best from. Will it be a quiet sleeper hit of the season? Only time will tell.
Streaming: Sailor Moon Crystal
Released: Summer 2014
The series so good it got added to the list twice!
Say you don't want to sit through around two hundred episodes of a series that was created twenty years ago. No one would blame you for that in the least. I know that if I weren't already a fan of
Sailor Moon I probably wouldn't want to do that either. For those people who want and desire fresher animation there is Sailor Moon Crystal! With brand new animation and being told in bi-weekly double length episodes, Sailor Moon Crystal will be like Pepsi Crystal... only it won't suck and disappear within a few months.
This is the year of
Sailor Moon, and if you're not jumping on the band wagon, you don't know what you're missing! The series is set to premiere on July 5th (that's this Saturday!) and will be appearing on Crunchyroll, so don't miss out.
Streaming: Fate/Stay Night
Released: Fall 2014
This is another remake but it still stands to be one of the best series of Fall season.
Every few years, a group of magic users gather and summon heroes from throughout history to fight a war against each other. The ultimate prize of this war is the legendary Holy Grail, able to grant any wish that the winner and their servant want. In this particular iteration of the war, a young man named Emiya finds himself roped into the competition after accidentally summoning the hero Saber. Together, Emiya and Saber will fight against other masters and servants for their own very different reasons.
Another personal favorite, the original version of
Fate/Stay Night is an action series that I will gladly show to anyone who wants to know where to start in their anime viewing as it makes a fantastic gateway into the hobby. Now that a brand new version is coming out, I feel certain that I will be replacing and upgrading within just a few short months. If you're into action and consider yourself someone interested in history, this is going to be a fantastic series to look at and if you want bonus points, look into the prequel series from the same animation studio titled Fate/Zero.
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L.B. Bryant is a coffee fueled anime junkie living in the wilds of Seattle. When not consuming the latest simulcasts, he can also be found rambling on Twitter.
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