Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Lifetime of Anime to Watch on Crunchyroll

Classic Super Robot Toys. I remember really wanting the Great Mazinger in my youth!

It looks like Crunchyroll has taken off with full afterburners after cruising around for a few years.  They have been a completely legitimate web portal for anime for years now and they even turned a good profit this year with a growing subscriber base.  While I'm writing this post I have it open in another window and I'm looking at all of the available shows to watch for free.  I just did a count and there are just over 300 series to watch now (that's right, 300!).  This 2013 spring anime season had them pick up a huge number of first rate mecha and other anime shows to broadcast only an hour after they air in Japan for subscribers.  If you're not a subscriber for the $7 / month you get to watch them 1 week after they air without HD.  I'm watching the stuff on an iPAD without the subscription and pretty darn satisfied overall.  Even three or four years ago this would have been unthinkable.  Even now, a number of other Japanese animation companies are starting up other web portals for online distribution to combat piracy and to reach broader audiences.  Who knows how all this will play out?  I just hope it'll work out for everyone's best interests.

In the top twenty anime series right now on Crunchyroll (as I write) we have:
  1. Naruto Shnippuden
  2. Oreimo
  3. Attack on Titan
  4. Hunter x Hunter
  5. Valvrave the Liberator
  6. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
  7. Devil Survivor 2
  8. Sword Art Online
  9. Muromi-san
  10. Bleach
  11. Samurai Bride
  12. Shugo Chara
  13. Chihayafuru
  14. Reborn!
  15. Space Brothers
  16. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
  17. Majestic Prince
  18. Zettai Boei Leviatan
  19. Uta no Prince Sama
  20. Gintama
That is a lot of good anime for both new and long running series.  If you were to watch all that it is an easy 20 x 20 minutes of anime (skipping credits / commercials / end titles) for 400 minutes a week or almost 7 hours a week!  I think a lot of people are just being drowned in a flood of goodness.  And then there are complete series to watch too - so you can grab the popcorn, a coke, have a cup noodle, and binge on all the episodes.

Myself, I'm just watching a few shows as I just don't have the time to watch all this stuff.  I still buy the dvds of series I really like if they're available and not being sold at an obscene price, but all of this free stuff must mean that DVD sales must be hurting.

I'm currently watching a number of new series, mainly mecha related, and here are a few observations.
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet - I think this is the best sci fi and mecha anime this season and it'll rank up there with the classics.   Interesting characters, good world building, interesting politics and it happens on long lost Earth!
  • Valvarave the Liberator - from the Gundam folks (but not Gundam).  Seems okay so far after two episodes, but it sure starts out in a manner similar to Gundam with space colonies, and sneak attacks.
  • Majestic Prince - another mecha anime.  Entertaining so far, but it is mech academy type fare with the misfits leading the charge against a previously unbeatable enemy.
  • Attack on Titan - actually I haven't seen it yet, but its in the queue.  I'm hoping it'll be good.  I hear good things about it.
Other good series if your time is limited and you want to binge:
  • Durarara - I never thought I would like this show so much - but what a great plot and set of characters.  Even the Celtic spirit Celty (go figure) works pretty good. It shows a seamier side of Ikebukuro in Tokyo where I stayed on my last trip there and it was a good show with otaku, crazed strongmen, gangs, spirits, and manipulators.
  • Sword Art Online - About people who get trapped in an MMORPG video game and live there until they escape.  Overcome the technical believability hurdles and you have a pretty good story all the way to the end.  Like .HACK, but different!
  • Space Brothers - this is pretty good character driven anime about two bothers.  One is an astronaut and the other wants to be one.  Lots of astronaut selection and training drama.
  •  R.O.D the Series.  -  This is a good action series where you have three wonderful sisters who are paper masters fighting against an unseen enemy that is manipulating the world.  A paper master is a person with "magical powers" to control paper as a weapon or tool (think origami on steroids or actually being able to make giant paper animals come to life).
  • Fate Zero - a magical / combat dueling series.  I like Fate / Stay Night but I found this series a little too much over the top.  Awesome animation with many fans though.
  • Muv Luv Total Eclipse.  I enjoyed the mecha action, but the story could have been better.
  • Angel Beats - I found this show to be way better than I thought and I actually quite like it.  Imagine a high school as purgatory in the afterlife.  What happens next?
  • Hanasaku Iroha - A girl moves to a hot springs inn to live with her grandmother.  Wonderful characters and setting for her to make new friends and resolve her feelings towards her boyfriend.  You want to kick her in the right direction after awhile but I like the show.
  • Bakemonogatari - A boy ends up meeting various people with supernatural problems and save them.  Very stylized animation.
  • Girls & Panzer - There actually isn't much fan service in this show - so it didn't get ruined - and it is about an alternate world where girls drive classic WWII tanks in competitions.  Lots of fun to watch, especially if you like tanks.
  • Wagnaria! - Comedy at a Japanese family restaurant (like a Denny's) and it was fun to watch.
  • Xamd: Lost Memories - really good biomechanical weapon and good SF series.  Kind of reminded me a bit of Miyazaki world building.
  • Vividred Operation - Magical Technology Girls!  Fun to watch, but edging towards too much fanservice.  Has all the classical magical girl tropes including the girl that never gives up and tries to save all her friends.
  • Tsuritama - I didn't get far into this but it looked pretty cool with fishing and aliens?
  • Love Live - School Idol - High school idols.  This was a pretty fun show about girls that band together to sing and dance their way to fame so they can attract more students to their school and not have it close.  The show had a good heart.
  • Kids on the Slope - A high school jazz anime set in the 60s about three kids who are bonded together by the music.  Had a good ending too, but it seemed rushed.  More of your serious anime.
  • Anohana - You need a premium membership to see this series - I got the DVDs instead.  A girls spirit returns to help her friends settle out of her tragic death years before when she was a little girl.  A bit Stand by Me with heavy anime overtones.  Very good show. 
  • Soranowoto - This is a slice of life at a military outpost in a post-devastation earth.  A young girl joins the army to learn how to bugle and zany adventures follow.  There is a dark side to this series that is quite serious and I really enjoyed it.  An original story too!
  • Puella Madoka Magica - the show that turned the magical girl genre on its head.  With innovative animation and a very cool twist, it is a must view if you can tolerate magical girls in any form.
  • Gosick - Mysterious girl and a Japanese boy solve mysteries in an early 20th century setting in Europe.  The girl dresses like she is out of Rozen Maiden with the lolita look too. Some mystical mumbo jumbo elements involved, but this series had a good ending and was quite good.  Would love to see a DVD release of this.
  • Plenty of mecha shows like Mazinkaiser SKL,Go Lion, Linebarrels of Iron, Star Driver, and Super Robot Wars OG The Inspector  too.
Crunchyroll is also a pretty good goldmine to watch a number of more classic series too:
  • Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumia (high school girl surrounded by Espers, Aliens, and Time Travelers). Lots of play on other anime.
  • Lucky Star (for mindless high school comedy that plays on otakudom and other anime including Haruhi)
  • Pretty Cure - the original series.  I still really like this magical girl anime and it wasn't heavy on fan service!
  • Gurren Lagaan - new anime in the classical super robot style.  If you like super robots you have to catch it for free!
  • Galaxy Express - space trains. A classic journey about a boy to the stars and vengeance.
  • Some of these are such long running shows they are classics like Naruto and Bleach.
There are tons more shows so start watching!

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