Since most of us have been in isolation lockdown mode for a very long time (and many of us have no current end in site), I thought it was time to put out a list of anime that’s great to binge. Obviously all anime can be binge watched (and every anime fan likely has at some point), so I set a few rules for this list.
- They should be great – obviously subjective, but it was my first selection rule.
- It should be a complete story – nobody wants to binge an anime and run into a story wall.
- It should be legally available to stream – nobody wants to have to hunt for an anime that they hear is amazing to watch. (I’m in the US, so these are legally available to stream here; your results may vary).
So without further ado, I present my top 5 anime to binge (plus one bonus anime, because I like lists that include bonuses).
5. Dororo (2019)
This remake of an anime classic aired last year and seemingly flew under the radar for most people (possibly because it aired on Amazon Prime?). I knew very little about the original story, but wanted to give it a try based solely on what appeared to be a beautiful art style. I’m super glad I did.
The story of Dororo appears to be a classic story of revenge and redemption at first glance, but the deeper you go, the more complex it becomes. What I love is that this anime doesn’t shy away from one of humanities defining traits: people, along with their actions and motivations, are rarely (if ever) black and white. I wrote a full review here if you’re interested in more, but I recommend just diving into this one and letting it surprise you.
4. A Place Further than the Universe
This anime almost defines the phrase “short and bittersweet” for me. Despite the fact that it’s just 13 episodes, I’d still classify it as “slow burn,” even though I’m telling you to binge it. It builds and builds with a crescendo of emotion until it finally bursts into a bubble of awe. I felt a literal heartwarming by the end of this show.
I don’t mean to convey that this anime is anything like the cotton candy of, say, My Love Story!! This is more a drama of a group of young girls taking on a larger than life adventure in hopes of grand personal growth and life altering experiences. It’s moving, and by the end of the short series, these girls will hold a place in your heart.
3. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
For you long time anime fans (or those who have only watched some of the most popular series), this might feel like a really obvious choice. You’re right, I try to make sure I don’t just include the “mainstream” anime when I make lists like these, but sometimes obvious answers are still good answers, and in this case, I think FMAB really qualifies.
Not only does it contain arguably some of the greatest character arcs in all of anime, but it keeps a great momentum for an insane 64 episodes. That’s a lot of binge time. It’s also a lot of time to keep “filler” episodes to a minimum. Rather than dancing around a conclusion, it rides on the backs of an amazing cast of characters towards one of the most satisfying conclusions in anime.
I seem to know just as many anime fans who have this on the “someday” burner as I do who have seen it. If there was ever a time to dig into the backlog for a super long anime, now is the time.
This is definitely the “goofiest” anime I have on this list. It’s the only one I have here that is a comedy first, story second. And it’s that lighthearted comedy and disarming charm that some people need when they’re stuck at home with nothing else to do. Sometimes you just need to laugh and forget about the world. K-On does a brilliant job at doing this.
But it’s not Nichijou. There’s actually a lot more to it under all that comedy. Over the course of two seasons and a movie, that disarming comedy does a great job at sneaking these characters into your heart in such a way that you will almost definitely feel a sense of betrayal when the words “The End” pop up on your screen like I did. You will simultaneously love the ride and hate that it’s over. I wrote a full review on just how much I loved it, so please check it out if you want to know more.
Bonus – Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Bonus time! Honestly, this was my number 6 pick, but I just couldn’t leave it out. It’s the shortest show on the list with only 11 episodes, but this one is a ride. It’s an emotional ride, at that. Confronting the topic of death and how it affects everyone around it is already difficult to discuss; Anohana makes it painfully clear that when that death involves a small child and the effects it has on her adolescent friends, it takes on a whole new meaning.
It’s obviously a delicate topic, but Anohana handles it with a deft hand. It feels subtle and realistic with that delicate fanciful twist that anime is so good at bringing to the table.
What I love in particular is how the show takes the time to unpack the emotions of a wide cast rather than one or two of the closest characters. The healing is painful, but it’s beautiful to watch humanity and all it’s flaws at work. I wrote a full review here if you want to know more.
1. Your Lie in April
This anime is special to me for many reasons. After watching it for a second time, I had to really digest everything I had just seen. I had watched a lot of anime between the first and second viewing, so it was like seeing it with brand new eyes.
Yes, the art is beautiful. Yes, the music is great to listen to. But the strength lies in the characters. I won’t try to sugarcoat it, this one is tough to watch, your ability to binge it will depend largely on how well you can handle really emotional situations. Even the ED for the second half draws on that melancholy. But the reward is a rich one. I can’t go into details without some large plot spoilers, but I think all anime fans should try this one. Keep your emotional walls down and let it wash over you. It’s a slow and painful cleanse, but you will come out of it feeling a bittersweet optimism. Please feel free to read my full review here if you want to know more.
And that’s my list of 5 Binge-Worthy Anime. This is a list of stuff I’ve already seen, so I’d love to see some new stuff. Please post your suggestions down below and let me know what you think about this list. Stay safe everyone. If we just remain patient it will be better for everyone in the long run. Be the hero everyone needs and Stay Home (and watch anime!) if you can.