When it comes to anime, there are various genres to explore. There are action-packed series, psychologically intricate ones, and those with exceptional animation that boasts a realistic touch, among others.
In this selection, we will introduce recommended anime for those prioritizing a compelling storyline. The appeal of anime with a strong narrative lies in its depth, captivating not only specific age groups or genres but also adults. From intricately crafted story settings to slightly enigmatic narratives that become clearer upon repeated viewing and heartwarming tales, we have chosen ten high-quality anime that transcend genre boundaries.
While striving to present objectively “interesting stories,” please understand that there may be some personal bias in the selection. We will provide synopses, highlights, and distinctive features for each recommended anime.
1. Eden of The East
Eden of The East was the first anime to air on the Noitamina programming block.
The protagonist is a young boy who goes by the name Takizawa Akira and suffers from amnesia. Nevertheless, he has over 8 billion yen in cash and a particular mobile phone called the Noblesse, which grants him the power to exercise authority at a national level. By chance, he encounters Morimi Saki, who decides to accompany him and witness his decisions.
There is a pervasive sense of indifference and detachment in Japan, depicted as a crisis-ridden environment with missile attacks. Takizawa disrupts the national atmosphere and embarks on a “Seleção Game,” aiming to become a “king” and bring about change in the country.
The atmosphere of apathy and indifference in the series resonates with real-life situations. Takizawa’s unconventional actions, defying societal norms and using tactics such as being a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and utilizing online forums to mobilize the population, are exhilarating. The anime prompts viewers to question their consciousness as citizens and presents a refreshing and thought-provoking narrative.
2. Steins; Gate
Steins; Gate is an anime adaptation of the game with the same title.
It revolves around the concept of time loops and is set in Akihabara. The protagonist, Rintarou Okabe, known by his chuunibyou pseudonym “Hououin Kyouma,” is a mad scientist. Alongside his “Lab Members,” he tinkers with various inventions that seem like random gadgets. Then, by a stroke of luck, he accidentally invents the time-machine.
In an attempt to change a future where his friends meet tragic fates, Okabe repeatedly attempts to alter the past. However, he always arrives at the same outcome. Determined to change the ending, he strives to reach a different “worldline,” exhausting himself emotionally as he travels back to the past multiple times.
Aside from Okabe, the other “otaku” characters in the story are also fascinating. Each time Okabe leaps through time, the problems faced by his friends gradually take on different forms. The series offers the enjoyment of organizing and analyzing the timeline while watching the story unfold.
Psycho-Pass is a series that initially aired on the Noitamina programming block and has since received a theatrical film and new anime adaptations.
The story takes place in a near-future Japan where people’s personalities and aptitudes are determined by the “Sibyl System,” and society functions based on these judgments. The “Crime Coefficient” measures and controls crimes, and individuals are judged accordingly. Akane Tsunemori, a rookie inspector in the Public Safety Bureau, wields the “Dominator,” a weapon that works in conjunction with the Sibyl System, as she conducts law enforcement activities.
Within this setting, she confronts the dark side of the system. The series prompts viewers to contemplate what true justice is and how a utopian society can be achieved. It revolves around her actions and poses such questions.
While the series incorporates elements of near-future science fiction on the systemic level, its main appeal lies in the human drama that unfolds among the members of the Public Safety Bureau. With Katsuyuki Motohiro, known for the “Bayside Shakedown” series, serving as the chief director, the series offers enjoyment as a crime and detective story and as a buddy cop drama.
ERASED is an anime adaptation of the manga by Kei Sanbe.
The protagonist, Satoru Fujinuma, possesses the “Revival” ability, allowing him to leap back in time. However, an unpredictable power activates independently and becomes a troublesome situation. Moreover, he remains trapped in the loop indefinitely unless he resolves the cause of the trouble that follows the leap.
Due to this power, Satoru is sent back to his childhood days. There, he becomes aware of the events that will unfold in the future and the incidents that occurred in the present time. Despite being tossed around by unexpected time leaps, he pursues to uncover the true culprits behind both cases.
In the incidents from his childhood, Satoru already knows the exact day when the events will occur based on his memories. As the time limit approaches, he takes various measures to prevent the tragedies from happening. With limited capabilities as a child, he thrillingly strives to corner the heinous criminals.
The anime’s ending differs slightly from the source, so enjoying the series alongside the manga is recommended to delve deeper into the title’s meaning.
SHIROBAKO is an original anime produced by P.A.WORKS that depicts the lives of girls working in the anime industry.
The series follows five girls who were members of an anime club in high school as they pursue their respective paths in the industry after graduation, such as becoming key animators or voice actors. The story revolves around Aoi Miyamori, who joins Musashino Animation and becomes involved in production. One of the notable aspects of the series is its realistic portrayal of the actual anime production process.
While there is fictionalization for storytelling purposes, the series offers an unprecedented glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of the industry that has never been depicted in anime before. It showcases the numerous sections and individuals involved in creating just one episode of an anime, providing a real sense of the collaborative effort behind the scenes. Watching this series may change your perspective on anime itself.
Through vibrant and lively animation, P.A.WORKS portrays the growth and progress of the five girls, with Aoi being the central focus. Even for those unfamiliar with the anime industry, the series contemplates work and one’s dreams. It is a work that blends dreams and reality, leaving viewers inspired to reconsider their aspirations.
Monster is an anime adaptation of the manga created by Naoki Urasawa.
The series faithfully reproduces the original work, capturing not only the artwork but also the stunning backgrounds and the setting of the German town. It revolves around Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant neurosurgeon working at a hospital in Germany, who one day saves the life of a boy named Johan. But, unbeknownst to Tenma, Johan possesses a charismatic aura that allows him to kill without emotion.
As a result of this encounter, Tenma becomes entangled with Johan and his twin sister, Anna. Determined to kill Johan, a serial killer, Tenma is embroiled in various conspiracies and agendas while relentlessly pursuing him.
The anime adaptation faithfully captures the intricate themes of the original work, including life and death, love, power, and societal changes. It stays faithful to the source material, rarely omitting important scenes, resulting in a lengthy series with 74 episodes.
With its weighty themes, a dark and suspenseful atmosphere, and the masterful interweaving of suspense, ‘Monster’ is a work that appeals to mature audiences and is best enjoyed during late-night viewing.
7. Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow
Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow is the first installment of the “Working Series” produced by P.A.WORKS.
The story begins with Ohana Matsumae, a high school girl living in Tokyo, losing her place to live due to her unconventional mother. So she moves to her grandmother’s house, which happens to be located at the historical hot spring inn called Kissuiso in Yuwaku Onsen, Ishikawa Prefecture.
Ohana, a city girl, finds herself clashing and forming relationships with her classmates and the inn’s landlady, Sui, as she moves forward with her colourful and spirited nature. The series portrays her lively work and struggles, giving viewers a heartwarming and uplifting experience. In addition, the transparent animation style further enhances the youthful sparkle of the story.
The anime features a fictional festival called the “Bonbori Festival,” which plays a significant role in the narrative. Inspired by the series, the real-life Yuwaku Onsen in Ishikawa Prefecture started holding the “Yuwaku Bonbori Festival” in 2011, importing the festival concept from the anime. This aspect of the series allows viewers to enjoy visiting the hot springs as a pilgrimage after watching the anime.
Bakuman. is an anime adaptation of the manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. It aired for a total of 75 episodes.
The story follows the aspiring manga artist duo of Moritaka Mashiro, the artist, and Akito Takagi, the writer. It begins with their meeting in middle school. Then, it chronicles their journey as they strive to become successful manga artists, eventually aiming to serialize in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine and create a hit manga series.
The series balances passion, effort, and friendship reminiscent of a typical shonen manga. However, it also incorporates romantic elements. The two main characters, the rival manga artists and the editorial staff, are portrayed with distinct personalities. Additionally, the series includes various fictional manga works created by the characters, each with its unique style and flavour. This adds to the series’ enjoyment as it revolves around the theme of manga creation.
The anime offers a satisfying blend of the exhilaration that comes from seeing dreams come true in a success story and the harsh reality of the manga industry, including the interactions with the editorial department. It skillfully combines ideals and reality, leaving viewers with a sense of fulfillment by the end of the series.
9. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is an original science fiction anime series produced by Sunrise.
The story revolves around the bounty hunter duo of Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, who travel through the solar system on their spaceship, the Bebop. They are joined by the enigmatic Faye Valentine, the eccentric Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, and the intelligent Welsh Corgi named Ein. The series follows an episodic format with self-contained stories.
Even more than 20 years after its release, ‘Cowboy Bebop’ continues to captivate viewers with its stylish and cool direction. Most of the series’ music, including the opening and ending themes, is composed by Yoko Kanno, who skillfully blends various genres with jazz as the foundation. The diverse range of music adds to the enjoyment of the series.
The show offers a mix of intense action, mature romantic elements, and comedic moments. In addition, the characters, who seem to belong in a seedy bar, exude a melancholy that becomes addictive.
Furthermore, the anime features an impressive cast of voice actors who deliver outstanding performances and memorable lines. Keep an eye out for the stellar performances of the main cast, including Koichi Yamadera as Spike, Unsho Ishizuka, and Megumi Hayashibara. The combination of a gripping story and exceptional voice acting makes ‘Cowboy Bebop’ a masterpiece that can be enjoyed on multiple levels.
10. The Great Passage
The Great Passage is an anime adaptation of the novel by Shion Miura and produced by the Noitamina programming block.
The story focuses on the lives of lexicographers, individuals who compile dictionaries. The protagonist, Mitsuya Majime, is an introverted and socially awkward individual who becomes involved in dictionary compilation and begins to showcase his talents.
The series primarily revolves around the quiet and understated nature of the characters’ work. However, this subdued atmosphere is what makes the anime captivating. Within the tranquillity, the passion of the people involved in dictionary editing and the growth of Mitsuya captivate the viewers’ hearts.
The anime effectively portrays the occupation of dictionary editing by visually presenting the moving words and letters. This aspect allows book lovers and those who may not have had a strong inclination toward literature to explore and appreciate the world of words.
Although the series lacks dramatic events typically found in dramas, it beautifully portrays the essence of everyday life. It helps viewers realize that there is a cumulative sense of happiness within seemingly ordinary and unremarkable days. The final episode reveals this happiness quietly building throughout the series, leaving a lasting impression.
The animation is nonstop fun for adults from the first episode!
We have carefully selected and introduced animation works with exciting stories. Although the works’ genres differ, they all draw you in with their stories, supporting worldviews, and character settings.
If there is a work that you have not seen yet, please refer to this article to make your selection. You will find that your time spent watching anime will be enhanced by encountering a story that matches your sensibilities.