Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. may have popularized animation, but Japan has made anime into an art form uniquely its own. For decades, anime has pushed the medium forward with a wide range of genres, from comedy to action to fantasy to romance. Japanese animators have also largely retained the hand-drawn style that has been all but abandoned by North American animation studios outside of children’s programming.
If you’re looking to get your anime fix, Hulu has one of the most impressive anime lineups of any streaming service, ranging from the classic series to modern hits that should resonate with fans of all ages around the world.
My Hero Academia
Marvel and DC have a stranglehold over superheroes in comic-book stores and movie theaters. However, there’s a generation of manga and anime fans who have a superhero epic of their own: My Hero Academia. The anime is based on Kōhei Horikoshi’s wildly popular manga series about a high school that serves as a training ground for the next generation of heroes.
The anime series follows Izuku Midoriya, a teenager born without a power or quirk of his own. But a chance encounter with the world’s greatest superhero gives Izuku the chance to become a hero in his own right. The supporting cast is also a rich assortment of eclectic heroes with wild and inventive powers. Hulu has all four seasons, and there’s no better way to catch up on the series before the fifth arrives.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
It took two attempts for the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga to break out as an anime, but the wildly successful revival series has become a genuine hit. The current show chronicles the adventures of the Joestar family from the 19th century to the present. Each generation has its “JoJo,” with Jonathan Joestar being the first. Jonathan’s conflict with the seemingly immortal vampire, Dio, spans decades. And it falls to Jonathan’s grandson, Jotaro Kujo, to finish the fight alongside a band of misfits who wield superpowers called “Stands.”
Netflix may have the upcoming live-action series, but Hulu has the original Cowboy Bebop. More than two decades after its initial debut, Cowboy Bebop remains a fan favorite thanks to its stylish mix of sci-fi, westerns, and noir. In the future, an unlikely group of bounty hunters make their way among the interstellar colonies. However, the past is often present for Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein. Cowboy Bebop only ran for 26 episodes, but the series’s fascinating journey and memorable ending still resonate to this day.
Meet Saitama, the most powerful superhero in the world. Despite his slight physique, Saitama can defeat any foe as long as he can land a single punch. But that’s a big problem for the star of One-Punch Man. Saitama craves a challenge that he can never truly find, which leads to some very funny moments. The superheroes of this world simply can’t compare to Saitama, and they have a hard time believing that he is truly as humble as he appears. One-Punch Man is one of a kind, and it’s easily among the most memorable series of the past decade.
Attack on Titan
It’s fitting that one of the biggest anime series in the world is all about evil giants and the people who fight them. Attack on Titan takes place in a dark future where the remnants of humanity are hunted by Titans, giant human-like creatures who devour anyone unfortunate enough to get in their way. Even the large walls surrounding the cities can’t keep the giants from their prey for long, however. A teenager named Eren Yeager discovers that the hard way, and he becomes a Titan himself during his quest for revenge.
Horror and sci-fi collide in Tokyo Ghoul, as a young man named Ken Kaneki finds his life irrevocably changed by a bad date. His date, a ghoul, nearly devours him in the first episode, leaving him to become a human-ghoul hybrid who has to learn how to reconcile his new life while maintaining his ties to his normal friends. Along the way, he may even become a hero as well.
There are four different Naruto-related anime series on Hulu, but the best one is Naruto Shippuden. It’s the first sequel series, and it takes place more than two years after the original show as Naruto Uzumaki returns to his village for the next stage of his quest to become the Hokage (leader) of his village, Konohagakure. But first, Naruto will need to reconnect with his friends and rededicate himself to his training before facing his destiny.
Akira isn’t just one of the greatest anime films ever made, it’s also a landmark cyberpunk story that remains highly influential three decades after its release. Based on the manga of the same name, Akira follows Shōtarō Kaneda as he tries to save his friend, Tetsuo Shima, from his uncontrollable telekinetic powers. Years before, Tokyo was destroyed by another powerful telekinetic named Akira. However, Akira may be able to change the fate of both Tetsuo and Neo-Tokyo, if Kaneda can uncover hidden secrets and survive his friend’s wrath.
Although Ergo Proxy lasted only a single season, it made quite an impression thanks to its stunning visuals and its occasionally confounding philosophical stories. It takes place in a future where humans and androids live side by side in peace, until a virus gives the androids self-awareness and a desire to kill. Inspector Re-L Mayer soon discovers that another species called Proxy may hold the secrets that will decide the fate of humanity and androids alike.
Ranma Saotome is a perfectly normal martial artist and teenage boy … except when he’s a girl. That’s the curse at the heart of Ranma 1/2, one of the first anime series to break out in the U.S. Before the events of the show, Ranma and his father, Genma, fell into a cursed spring. Subsequently, they transform into a girl and a panda, respectively, any time they are exposed to cold water. Naturally, that complicates Ranma’s betrothal to Akane, a fellow martial artist. But it also ensures a lot of laughs in this comedy series.
Fans of Joss Whedon’s TV series, Firefly, may notice several familiar elements in the space western, Outlaw Star. However, the anime and the manga that inspired it pre-date Firefly by a few years. Within this series, Gene Starwind and the motley crew of the Outlaw Star take on odd jobs to keep their ship in working order. They also search the cosmos for a galactic treasure as Gene develops romantic feelings for Melfina, an advanced bio-android. Only 26 episodes were produced, but that also allowed Outlaw Star to reach a satisfying conclusion.
Space Dandy is a weird show, but in a good way! The series follows a guy named Dandy, or as the show calls him, “a dandy guy in space.” He travels the universe with a robot named QT and the cat-like being known as Meow. This is a sci-fi comedy with only the loosest possible interpretation of continuity between each episode. That’s why Dandy and his friends can meet darkly hilarious ends and return in the next episode completely healed and intact. Trust us, it’s a blast.
Imagine holding the power of life and death in your hands. It’s not a hypothetical situation in Death Note, a series in which high-school student Light Yagami comes into possession of the Death Note, a book that allows Light to kill anyone whose name is written in it. Light quickly develops a God complex as he takes credit for killing “bad people” while using his alter ego, Kira. That leads to a delicious game of cat and mouse between Light and the enigmatic investigator known as L. But when the Death Note is in play, very few will make it out alive.
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