Story and cover image by Breanna Sak
Anime is not just for children. There has been a long held stigma surrounding anime, stating that these shows are comparable to American cartoons intended for children. This idea has deterred many from testing the waters to see what anime has to offer.
I am here to help make the jump into anime feel less scary and more approachable by showing a close-up view of what you can expect from a few select shows. Having been a part of the anime community for almost 8 years, I know which shows are sure to get your heart pounding with anticipation all while each episode feels like it is flying by. I am also pairing each of the shows with another so, if you enjoy one of them, there is a strong probability that you will also like its counterpart.
While this anime recommendation series is intended for newcomers, it also embeds sneaky ploys to keep even long-term anime fans interested. In this issue, we will be taking a look at some animes that have darker themes, a well developed cast of characters and subtle intricacies that link the story together beautifully.
There will be minor spoilers throughout, however, they will be kept to a minimum so that the full journey is left for you to discover and explore on your own.
Attack on Titan
The Attack on Titan anime is based on the manga series, Shingeki no Kyojin, written and drawn by Hajime Isayama. It has been a stand out
story for newcomers to get a feel of how anime is able to tackle thought-provoking stories with the dark themes that it fully envelopes. This anime is brimming with fast-paced episodes, head-spinning plot twists and intricately designed characters.
While there are plenty of admirable characters scattered throughout this show, our small ragtag group — composed of Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlet — is who the story focuses on. The trio is introduced together in the first episode through the menial tasks in their everyday lives, just before calamity strikes.
Early on, you will see that Mikasa distinguishes herself from the others by being the most skilled and strongest member on their team, equipped with an unnatural amount of raw talent. Then, we have Armin, the mandatory intellectual strategist that devises the strategies for his team. However, with a heart of gold, Armin finds himself encumbered with the weight of any sacrifices he makes to get to his goal. Eren rounds out the party by being the most passionate and driven character; the one that influences the other two to be driven as well and subsequently becomes the trio’s leader.
Eventually, the trio is forced to face a path of no return, with an inevitable and unchanging fate waiting for them. Due to Eren’s influence over the other two, they ultimately chose to walk together down this path despite the risks, showing their devotion to each other and their home.
Attack on Titan’s story develops in a masterful way, with each step meticulously planned out to provide a lead up to other events that will unfold in the future. Though episodes feel like they speed along, there are times when it does slow down, giving just barely enough time to catch your breath and prepare for what’s coming next.
Despite the sheer amount of things that go down in the show, the pacing is immaculate, having just the right amount of time in between fight scenes and plot points as to not feel overwhelmed but also keep you on the edge of your seat. Attack on Titan is incredibly detailed with even the side stories containing twists and turns to keep the plot changing with every passing episode.
Jujutsu Kaisen is another masterfully done show that awed many during its initial airing. It showcases a balanced series of plot points that sway effortlessly between serious to light-hearted moments, giving it a well-rounded feel. Jujutsu Kaisen recognizes the impossibility of the ideal of saving everyone, like a typical hero or protagonist would, and instead opts to use the cruel logical nature of modern life.
Jujutsu Kaisen starts off with our main character, Yuji Itadori, living out his ordinary high-school life, completely unaware that something is happening around him. Additionally, we find out that Itadori has two ideologies, “help people whenever you can” and that “everyone deserves a proper death.” Both of which are guiding principles he lives and breathes by.
In Jujutsu Kaisen, hardship, regret, shame, and other negative emotions become curses that lurk in our everyday lives. Curses run rampant throughout the world, capable of leading people to terrible misfortune and even death. This leads to a disturbance at Yuji’s school, where he finds a classmate, Megumi Fushiguro, already on the scene and decides to assist.
However, since Itadori knows absolutely nothing about the power system in place, which dictates that curses can only be exorcised by another curse, he ends up being completely ineffective in combat. While he has a desire to save others and lead them towards a proper death, Itadori is quickly forced to accept that he’s not strong enough to save everyone. As a way to face his inexperience, Yuji is admitted to the Tokyo Jujutsu High School of Sorcery and is guided by a powerful Jujutsu Sorcerer who shows Itadori the way to achieving his goals.
There is just no watching them fast enough and with each episode running for about 20 minutes, it’s incredibly easy to binge.