Time for a bit of positivity in your media intake! Crunchyroll has always been the service people tend to go to for 1 major Shonen Jump series but to me it was the service I finally paid for to watch Polar Bear Café and Attack on Titan series 3. I’ve ended up watching countless series and have friends who’ve used the free service so why not a new list of recommendations. The app is still clunky, there are still no profiles, lists or basic functions you’ve come to expect from streaming services in the last year. Thing is the quality of the simulcasts and translations can be fantastic and when you’re watching the latest episodes almost 24hrs after they came out in Japan it can be brilliant. It also has a habit of hosting some stone cold classics that other services drop so with all that in mind let’s have a look at what’s worth watching!
I’ve previously posted anime worth binging on Netflix here and have not recommended the duplicates. This list is also obviously spoiler free;
We’re off to a great start here with the first suggestion not being a series but the films on the service. Recently Crunchyroll has added Promare to its service (both sub and dub versions) and if you’ve never seen it you owe it to yourself to do so. It’s easily the best animated film of all time (Spider-Verse is a close second) There’s also the often overlooked Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. A film that closes off the original TV series but stands up as an incredible anime film in its own right. Finally if you search for The Dragon Dentist it will show as a 2 episode series but each episode is 46mins long making the total series an incredible short film that would fit right alongside Origin: Spirits of the Past or Steamboy.
Fruits Basket – Now that Fruits Basket has finished I can easily say this is the greatest anime of all time. Scene by scene improving on the classic manga it’s an emotional rollercoaster. Incredible to watch while still wearing the slight imperfections on its sleeve, Fruits Basket is an absolute gem. It’s defies the genre constantly and is simply one of a kind.
Dr Stone – I personally find Dr Stone fascinating and I’m not alone, Crunchyroll knew it had a winner on its hands running into the Stone Wars arc and it wasn’t wrong. Dr Stone isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I find the unique brand of edutainment mixed with anime tropes a great watch.
FLCL – What’s left to say about Fooly Cooly that hasn’t already been said? It still stands up as the same quirky unique incredibly animated bonkers series it always was. The soundtrack is still an absolute winner and now that’s on Spotify to! Well worth a rewatch for the ending alone.
Polar Bear Café – Shirokuma Café is one of the reasons I justify my subscription to Crunchyroll. Incredibly easy to watch, unashamedly pure and sharp witty humour Polar Bear Cafe is incredible. A well planned out show that somehow manages to be so nonchalant in it’s short story setup and still have the most emotionally crushing animated scene of all time. The post credit scenes still crack me up even now and it’s just the warmest series.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Technically series one to three of JoJo are on Netflix but all of the JoJo anime series is on Crunchyroll. Arguably series 5 Golden Wind is JoJo at its best and you’ll want to watch series 4 to get any kind of understanding of the new Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan special on Netflix. If series 1 is a little too much you can easily skip to series 3 Stardust Crusaders as it’s standtastic from that point on.
Mushi-Shi – This used to be on Netflix but now has made its way back to Crunchyroll. A unique quirky slow anime that doesn’t pull its punches. If you enjoy interesting stories about a wanderer and their unique skills in a Witcher style story then you’ll adore this. It’s full of difficult moments and clever twists but the journey is worth taking.
Yuri!!! on ICE – I never thought I’d like Yuri!!! on Ice. It’s a sports anime about how Yuri is getting his groove back with his trainer (and lover?) and there’s a lot of nods to yaoi/BL throughout. It’s now one of my all-time favourite series. The story is incredible, the animation is mind blowing and everything blends into such an easily accessible experience that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. If you’ve never watched it due to zero interest in ice skating I highly recommend watching it regardless. You’ll be shocked at how good it is.
Yu-Gi-Oh! – You can watch the dub on Netflix but the original Japanese is where it’s at. From the start in its un-edited form and with the original Japanese voice actors, Yugi has a much darker edge to him and the encounters continue to have a much darker tone. It’s only a few episodes into the start of the Kingdom arc when Kaiba is stepping back off a rampart to kill himself if he loses. It’s still great to watch even if the rules are complete nonsense.
Burn The Witch – Short and sweet. Burn The Witch was a great example of what Kubo Tite can do when he’s not tied down to making manga every week and just drawing cool stuff he loves. The best aspects of Bleach are easily recognisable and Burn The Witch takes them and makes them unique and wonderful again. It’s bright, colourful, short and an easy watch. The only disappointing thing is it’s over far too quickly.
Cowboy Bebop – Once a year I find myself re-watching this. A stone cold classic that is almost timeless. The live action series now has a splash screen on Netflix so why not remind yourself of why this is still such a loved series by starting another re-watch.
Dragon Ball Super – Dragon Ball Super is more enjoyable than Dragon Ball Z. It’s that simple. You can think back with rose tinted eyes of how good Z was and look at the remaster Kai and point to great scenes but Super nails the best aspects and improves upon them. All of the Super films are on Netflix but despite a slow start the series is a lot better and the final arc is one of a kind.
Mob Psycho 100 – Occasionally there’s a series that comes along and is so stunning it completely changes the way animation is done. Ironically the best thing about Mob isn’t the stunning animation or the incredible ways it changes and adapts to blow your mind, it’s the characters. The second series has such an incredible arc for Reigen that you can see coming and still feels like an emotional sucker punch. The bonus OVA feels like a welcome soft closure to tie the series over and leave a nice warm memory.
Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series – I’m always surprised how few people have even heard of this series. Telling a story of a unique individual visiting incredibly unique cities and an overarching story that grabs you hard and makes you want to know more. It has the same incredible feeling of scale the first series of Attack On Titan did but with a lot more thought behind it. Don’t sleep on this, one episode will get you hooked to the end and you won’t regret it. If you only remember 1 series from this list it’s Kino.
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed – Netflix has recently added a plethora of original Gundam films and content from the very early days of the franchise but Crunchyroll still has Seed and Destiny. Easily the best and easiest to watch a Gundam series, Seed is a wild ride from start to finish and the benefit of the Japanese voices results in a singer who hits the right notes.
Kaiji – It’s hard to recommend this series to anyone. It’s about a gambler who isn’t very good and keeps failing. Kaiji isn’t drawn to be visually appealing and there isn’t really any one key moment you can point to and go, “look see?” All of this and yet there’s nothing like it. You’ll be wanting Kaiji to succeed, learning how these gambling mechanics work and fascinated by the story it tells. Zawa zawa comes from Kaiji.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – If you enjoyed The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya you’ll love this. It’s dark, cleverly written and an enjoyable story all the way from start to finish. The characters are unique and interesting and the fanservice is largely minimal and typically only there to take the edge off. The series is also going to shift to Netflix on the 15th August so be sure to check it out on either service!
Series to watch but with caveats –
Attack on Titan – Season 1 to 3 have their moments. Best to skip the Final Season though.
Bleach – It may have fizzled out due to overkill filler and censorship but up until the end of the Soul Society arc it’s fantastic and well worth watching.
Btooom! – If you want another Battle Royale/Gantz style series that doesn’t quite live up to either but have a good soundtrack and ideas then this is for you.
Cells at work – A great series to enjoy but you’ll need to pause it every 5 seconds to read the additional translation. The sequel is also there if you enjoy learning about the body.
Cardcaptor Sakura – The original and modern series are all here if you’ve always wanted to watch them. CLAMP and magic girl as can be without the Madoka edge.
Digimon – Netflix has Pokémon and Crunchyroll has all of the Digimon. The original series is here as are the spin offs and more modern reboots. Hours of digivolving.
Eyeshield 21 – A sports anime with a great soundtrack. Quirky as hell with each character drawn a different style but it’s a sports anime that never really goes anywhere. It’s enjoyable enough.
Fire Force – I’m still on the fence with this, it’s not quite Soul Eater but has some good ideas and moments where it comes incredibly close. Try not to think too hard about the story though.
Gintama – It’s hard to recommend this without a big caveat. There’s some very niche Japanese humour but when it gets serious it’s universally phenomenal. The series has ended but it’s a bit like Naruto and One Piece where it’s hard to recommend due to the incredible size and filler feeling padding.
Golden Time – A fun romcom series with a fair chunk of fanservice and really good story beats but expect to scream at the tv a few times in frustration as characters act the most frustrating way possible at times simply to pad for time.
Jujustu Kaisen – I really want to recommend this wholeheartedly but the series is equal parts great as it is slow and kind of clunky at the start. By the end you’ll be gripped but it takes a while to find its feet and not just be a gory Shonen series. Take you’re time and you’ll get a series that rivals Naruto’s best beats.
Kiznaiver – Strangely overlook series and despite not quite being as good as Persona 4 (not golden everything’s better than that) it comes bloody close. The ending isn’t the best it could be and the middle is a little drawn out but there are some stunningly great episodes.
The Quintessential Quintuplets – An absolutely stupid romcom that can’t even be classed as slice of life being so wildly bonkers at times. It really gets going in the second season and the last few episodes of the first but has a frustrating as hell ending so just be aware going in.
Tokyo Revengers – I’d love to recommend Tokyo Revengers but it’s still ongoing and although it’s now going strength to strength with its Yakuza focused story through an Erased style of story telling there was a big bump in the start of the 2nd arc. The first arc is great though and if you’re looking for a new History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi feeling series or an anime but with a Yakuza game style story then give it a go.
What’s your favourite anime?
This post was originally published on the 4th August 2021