Love it or hate it, people who watch the show generally come away with some sort of strong reaction to it. In fact anime fans are so divided over whether the series is genius or simply unwatchable that some review sites post two completely different reviews from either stand point.
I have to say I love Death Note. I think it's a fantastic anime for many reasons but most of all because it made me think while I watched it. Death Note tells the story of a young man (Light) who, through chance, ends up getting the power to kill anyone in the world and the brilliant young detective (L) who is hell bent on stopping him. The series delves into such questions as: what is justice, is killing ever justified, who decides what is moral-an individual, society, the government, does power always corrupt, and does the ends always justify the means?
It is available on Netflix watch instantly.
Mushi-shi was the first anime I ever watched were I said to myself 'this is art.' The animation style is beautiful; soft and dreamlike while still being highly detailed. The sound track is so lovely that, for the first time ever, I went out and got it. The story itself weaves science with mythology together to create an organism that exists both in our world and outside of it called 'mushi'.
The anime is set sometime between the Edo and Meiji periods and follows Ginko-a mushi master-who travels, studying mushi and helping out when the mushi's world and out world don't intact as harmoniously as they could.
There is a lot in Mushi-shi about how we choose to interact with our surroundings, and how even things we can't see or outwardly detect can change our environments and lives.
Mushi-shi is available to watch on both Netflix watch instantly and Hulu.
In the series some urban legends that seem incredible are true. For instance the legend of the headless motorcyclists is true, she is in fact headless and sharing an apartment in the city with a med student. While some legends, like the Dollars Gang, start out as false and end up taking on a life of their own.
I have to admit I haven't finished the show yet but I love the art style and how it make me think about how and why we tell stories and the kind of power these stories have over us.
Available to watch on Crunchyroll
No. 6 is the only anime on this list which is still on going. As of today only 8 out of 10 episodes have been aired in Japan and the entire series won't be officially available in the US for another year. However you can watch the show so far subbed online.
No. 6 is a dystopian story that follows one, rather quiet and geeky young man living in an utopian-like city-'No. 6'- completely cut off from what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world.
I am not a huge fan of dystopia in general but I have fallen in love with No. 6 because it emphasizes human kindness. Sion the main character shows kindness to a hurt and scared boy his own age (Nezumi) when he's twelve an act that changes both their lives forever.
In No. 6 the fear, hatred and oppressive government regime that has separated the city from the destroyed wasteland outside is broken down when Sion acts in kindness towards someone he has been taught to fear. When Nezumi returns that kindness four years later the two create not only a deep personal bond but also a knew way of being totally foreign to life both inside the city and outside.
A few days ago I wrote a post about kindness in post-apocalyptic literature. So I'm thrilled to find a dystopian/apocalyptic sci-fi show that portrays kindness as being our greatest strength against oppression and out greatest tool for survival.
The show has also generated a lot of controversy because the relationship between the two main (male) characters seems to be making its way from friendship towards a romantic relationship. I think it's a little too soon to say if these characters will be portrayed as gay but if so it would definitely be one of the best portrayals of a gay relationship in anime and probably grounds for me to write totally separate review.
Available to watch with subtitles as it is air in Japan on Crunchyroll