As a child of the 90s, one of my favourite times of my childhood was, literally, 8 p.m.
I would sit myself down in front of the television, flip on the old “26 television, go to channel 25 (YTV in Toronto), and watch an entire episode of Dragon Ball Z.
While most of the episode would see Goku – the show’s protagonist – mostly staring down one of the show’s many, many, many antagonists for the whole show, it was still awesome. Growing up Japanese Canadian meant that I had an inkling about what being part Japanese meant and how this animation related to me.
It meant that during holidays we’d go to my grandmother’s house for a banquet of Japanese food, but it also meant that some part of me could say, “Hey, my people made this show.”
Dragon Ball Z became a big part of my life and anime remains a big part of my life to this very day. However, growing older meant my taste in Japanese animation has expanded. So here’s a quick list of five great animes you can watch online right now. Like right now, go!
Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
This show is probably the most enthralling anime serial on the web right now. It’s not because the mysterious Titans are so mysterious or that the world that Eren Jäger inhabits is interesting, it’s that each episode leaves you wanting more.
In Attack on Titan‘s world, humanity lives behind a wall. This fortress built through centuries of hardship and toil are meant to protect those inside from what lurks outside. The Titans. No one knows where they came from or why they exist, but all they know is that the walls are the only things stopping them from devouring everyone inside. For Eren, the Titans are a fascination, they’re a mysterious force controlling their lives, and on one fateful day something stirred outside and the walls came tumbling down.
Then everything changed. As a refugee, Eren decides that his life’s goal is to – as he says almost candidly at times – Kill All of The Titans. Doing this is more than just petty revenge for losing everything, it’s a way for Eren to discover the secrets of the Titans and in doing so understand them.
You can find episodes of Attack on Titan over at Crunchy Roll for free. It’s a great show to watch just don’t get too addicted like me and avoid spoilers! I fell into the trap of doing too much research and I found out some of the show’s secrets.
Naruto Shippuden (ナルト 疾風伝)
Naruto has been around forever, but that doesn’t mean the show has lost any of its luster. Well, maybe the current arc has been going on for a little too long. Japanese and North American audience have been fascinated by the journey of Naruto Uzumaki and have watched as he’s grown from being a bright-eyed child to a fierce, bright-eyed adult who wields a terrifying power.
What Naruto has done for a short generation of kids in North America is introduce them to the wonders of manga. If you’ve ever been to a Toronto Public Library or any library for that matter, the manga section is guaranteed to have two series: Naruto and Bleach, and you’re guaranteed to see just how well used the books are. Kids love them and they encourage kids to read.
The television show has been on in North America for the better part of the last decade and it’s still continuing on steadily. It feels like the series will be coming to an end soon though, but I think a lot of hearts will break when Naruto finally stops publishing new issue. You can see free episodes over at Crunchy Roll.
Free! Iwatobi Swim Club
Free! is a show about a swim team in Japan. Made up of four friends (plus a few more as the season continues) it shows their struggles to reunite after spending so much time away from one another. You see, when Haruka Nanase (七瀬 遙 Nanase Haruka) – the main character of the show – was younger he was a star swimmer with a bright future ahead of him, but he also had a rival.
The show follows him when he’s a little older and a little more cynical, but he’s still a swimmer and so to is Rin Matsuoka (松岡 凛 Matsuoka Rin) his rival from when he was younger. The show has a great story and a great cast of characters who compliment one another, but what you might not know is that Free! started out as nothing more than a commercial.
Kyoto Animation is one of the forerunners when it comes to animation in Japan. They’ve created shows like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which is a great show by the way, and several others that have landed them on top of the animation food chain in Japan. When this preview for the show came out fans demanded that the studio make it into an actual show and lo and behold it exists.
You can watch free episodes of Free! (see that play on words) over at Crunchy Roll.
Going into Angel Beats, I honestly didn’t believe I would like the show. It starts off almost like any other anime with characters going to high school, but you soon find out something interesting is going on. You see, when a person dies before their time or when they still have something to do they end up in a kind of purgatory. For people who are students they end up going to this high school and as Yuzuru Otonashi (音無 結弦 Otonashi Yuzuru) finds out there’s more to this school than meets the eye.
Immediately after falling into this world, Otonashi finds two people waiting for him. Yurippe and a girl who she refers to as Angel are both wearing the school’s uniforms, but they couldn’t be more opposite in personality. For instance, Yurippe is strong headed and exciteable while Angel stabs Otonashi in the heart killing him… yes, this happens in the show.
The good thing for the cast is while they are in purgatory they are immortal. Their inability to die means they can live forever, but that doesn’t stop many of the students from moving on. Each episode follows the Afterlife Battlefront (死んだ世界戦線 Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS), which Yurippe created, to help students wake up at the school. This lets the kids move onto the next life on their own account rather than dissolving into nothing.
It’s a touching show that has a mix of action and drama, but it also has some tough moments. All of the characters died before his or her time, and they have to confront it with the viewer. You can find episodes of Angel Beats over at Crunchy Roll, so take a watch.
Well, Adventure Time isn’t strictly an anime, but it has that combination of fantasy and comedy that makes it an instant hit with both kids and adults. There’s something about Finn and Jake – the main two characters in the show – that make each adventure something so much more mature.
Although Finn is just 15-years-old, he faces some insurmountable challenges with liches, demons, and evil beings constantly cropping up, but also some practical issues kids his age might face in the real world. For instance, up until the last few episodes Finn had a girlfriend, but due to some screw ups she left him. What did Finn do? He certainly wasn’t ok and his depression carries throughout several episodes, and to this day it’s still going on. Remind you of anything?
We all screwed things up during Middle School and High School! Kids can relate to Finn in that’s he is just as fallible as they are and adults can relate because they went through the exact same things when they were younger. It’s a fine show that’s kept me riveted and I’d definitely suggest watching this video from PBS’s Ideas Channel for more on why it’s such a great show.
Strictly speaking, the show isn’t available online, but for those include here’s a link just don’t tell anyone I sent you.
Anyone reading this article please put your suggestions for other animes down in the comments. We love to get feedback on these articles to make sure our readers get a good look into the best of anime the world has to offer.