Let’s face it: a lot of us who watch anime episodes as soon as they release don’t exactly watch them through the most, uh, legitimate means. When you can’t wait to see the latest Haikyuu!! episodes, you might find yourself looking for them on the internet like some kind of pirate at a certain bay. And if you’re not trying to Jack Sparrow your way to some new episodes, you might be answering some oddly complex CAPTCHAs instead, on those kinds of sites (if you know, you know). It’s not exactly ideal that this is how we regularly watch anime, but it’s hard to find any better alternatives. At least until Netflix came along.
With the growing popularity and accessibility of streaming sites, watching anime through the proper channels (yes, pun intended) is easier than ever, and one of the top streaming sites for anime that we can easily access right now is Netflix. Although Netflix release dates for new anime aren’t as immediate as their Japanese release dates (the usual delay for an international release being three to six months), nothing beats the experience of watching anime guilt-free, knowing you’re able to show support to the anime studios you love by watching their work through an official release.
If you’re looking for some good, new anime to watch on Netflix, here are five of my recommendations.
Those of us who were born in the 90’s or earlier probably remember watching Baki the Grappler on GMA 7, Tagalog-dubbed no less. It was one of those anime series that appealed to a wide audience, and its popularity in the Philippines matches even that of Flame of Recca and Yu Yu Hakusho (or as we know it, Gost Payter). The Netflix Original Series Baki is set after the events of the original 2001 anime, with the first 26 episodes having been released last 2016, and 13 new episodes released just this month.
The new Baki series being on Netflix means that there’s more room for gore, profanity, and brutality, and it’s the same kind of absurd violence that made the original Baki the Grappler so popular. Sure, it’s campy and grotesque, but you can’t help but root for Baki in his journey to defeat the “Strongest Creature on Earth”, aka his dad, Yujiro Hanma.
Drifting Dragons was released in Japan in Fall 2019, but this month, it’s now available worldwide to stream on Netflix. It tells the story of a motley crew of dragon hunters whose primary source of nutrition is dragon meat, and each episode is the perfect combination of action scenes from their dragon hunting sequences, as well as light-hearted slice-of-life and cooking scenes from when they’ve finally netted a critter or two.
In Drifting Dragons, many of the action scenes take place in a vast and sprawling sky, which makes its CGI animation style perfect for accommodating the grand scale of the tug-of-wars that happen between the airship Quin Zaza and the many dragons that serve as its prey. Drifting Dragons is part-monster hunting anime and part-cooking anime, all wrapped up in a beautifully animated and refreshingly original series.
Every now and then, a great new romantic comedy anime comes to grace the season with a lot of laughs and a good helping of slice-of-life. 2014 had Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, and 2018 had Wotakoi: Love is Hard for an Otaku. When you think about how many anime series are released in a year, it’s strange that good wholesome romantic comedies are so rare, but the truth is that rom-com anime shows are prone to falling into the trap of trading in humor for (sometimes erotic) fanservice. Fanservice will get you far, but it’s the quality of the comedy that can turn a rom-com anime into a classic.
I dare say that Kaguya-sama: Love is War is on the track to becoming one such classic. It tells the story of Miyuki and Kaguya, the student council president and vice-president whose feelings for each other are held back solely by the immense height of their pride. Kaguya-sama: Love is War centers on how both of them try to get the other to confess their love in order to preserve their own pride, and it’s the excessive lengths they go to that bring about the show’s main gags. It’s light and hilarious, and the humor remains consistent in every episode. You can watch the entire first season on Netflix now, with the second season’s episodes currently being released weekly on Netflix as well.
Beastars is the earliest on this list to have come to Netflix, as it was released worldwide last April. Despite its release being two months ago, I decided to put it on this list to remind you to watch it if you haven’t yet, because it’s excellent. Beastars is part of the new generation of anime that make use of both traditional 2D animation and 3D CGI animation, and you won’t find a better example for both animation styles being used in perfect balance.
Beastars tells the story of a timid wolf named Legosi, who navigates his own coming-of-age story set in a world of animal people (think the setting of Bojack Horseman but with very few humans). Legosi has to come to terms with his carnivorous and violent nature as a wolf as he finds himself having feelings for his herbivore bunny-girl senpai, Haru. In the background, all kinds of conflict take place between the carnivores and herbivores of the world, with the tensions between them reaching even Legosi and Haru’s campus. Fun fact: Beastars’ writer and manga illustrator, Paru Itagaki, is the daughter of Keisuke Itagaki, the writer and illustrator of the Baki manga.
I’ve previously written about Dorohedoro in my Winter 2020 anime recommendations, and I’m here to recommend it again now that it’s on Netflix and it’s more accessible than ever. It was released in Japan earlier this year, and was made available on Netflix worldwide just last May. Now that I’ve seen the entire season of Dorohedoro (the Winter 2020 article was written just after the first two episodes were released), I can confidently tell you that it’s one of the most fun and unique anime that you’ll ever watch.
Dorohedoro tells the story of a lizard-headed, seemingly immortal man named Caiman, who loses all of his memories from his life before he was cursed with a lizard head. Alongside him is the chef-slash-badass Nikaido, who helps him hunt down sorcerers in search of any leads to the man who might be able to undo his metamorphosis and restore his lost memories. Dorohedoro is a wild ride, and I don’t say that lightly: each episode is riddled with stylistic (but never overdone) violence, humorously absurd twists and turns, and quirky characters that leave you with more questions than answers. Every episode will leave you wanting to watch the next one right away, but you won’t be skipping those credits when you hear Dorohedoro’s absolutely banging soundtrack.
As a bonus, I’ve also decided to add Fire Force to this list, because it’s coming to Netflix this June 15. Fire Force had one of the most promising pilot episodes and premises from last year’s batch of anime, but the poor writing of its source material made the anime a bit of a disappointing experience as it neared the end of its season. Despite the story’s flaws, Fire Force’s stylish animation alone is enough to make the show worth watching. Fire Force is a visual treat that could be a perfectly OK anime so long as you manage your expectations. Sometimes it’s enough that an anime looks cool.
There are still quite a few anime coming to Netflix throughout the year, and I’ll make sure to let you know about them as soon as they drop, so stay tuned! Until then, be sure to check these anime series out. Especially Dorohedoro. Go watch Dorohedoro. Like, now.
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