In March 2020, people worldwide might find themselves in a situation where, well, they’ll be spending a lot of times in their homes. Between that and Siliconera recently performing a fusion dance with Japanator, we’ve decided now might be a good time to recommend some anime series to watch. Some of these are connected to different video games. Others aren’t. Still, we thought that people might enjoy having some suggestions of things to watch that are available on different streaming services.
Carole and Tuesday: This Bones anime series was written and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame. It follows two young women, Carole and Tuesday, as they pursue their passion of attempting to become successful musicians after a chance meeting. However, at the same time, we’re seeing commentary on society and music as a whole, especially since a secondary character named Angela shares that dream, but is on a very different path to achieve it. You can watch it on Netflix. – Jenni
Steins;Gate: Have you always been curious about the Steins;Gate series, but visual novels aren’t your thing? There’s an anime for that! The series, which was created by White Fox studio, locks you into only one ending, but it lets you learn all about the self-proclaimed mad scientist Houoin Kyouma (never Rintaro Okabe, that dude’s nobody) and his Future Gadget Laboratory minions (friends) as they stumble into an actually monumental scientific discovery and deal with both time traveling and alternate timelines. It is streaming on Hulu and Funimation – Jenni
Log Horizon: If you’re going to watch one anime that’s mainly about games, make it Log Horizon. Based on the novel series by author Mamare Touno, Log Horizon adapts the now-common genre trope of “isekai” – the premise of the main character being trapped in another world – to a thoughtful and considered exploration of both nation-building and the qualities and structures of massive multiplayer games.
Shiroe, a veteran player of the MMORPG Elder Tale, one day finds himself–and everyone else playing the game–inhabiting his own avatar in the world of Elder Tale. Only this time it seems like all the game’s NPCs, fictional nations, and history, has been somehow made as real–and complicated–as life itself. The show can be watched on Crunchyroll and HIDIVE and is available for purchase via Amazon Video. – Josh
Overlord: Overlord is a lot like Log Horizon, but from the opposite end of the moral spectrum. Once again, a veteran MMO player is transported to another world with surprising similarities to the game. The twist is that the world itself is “real”, but isn’t strictly the same as the game the player came from.
But where Log Horizon’s characters decide to found a just and livable society in their new environment, Overlord’s overpowered lead takes the path of the conqueror. The show’s most interesting stories tackle how the natives–the people living in the world–are forced to reckon with the emergence of an extremely powerful, largely amoral party. In some ways it feels almost like an origin story for the kinds of “Demon Lord” characters that make up many a JRPG’s final boss -Josh
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online: Sword Art Online might be the most prominent representation of game-adjacent anime productions, but for my money this spin-off focused on the game in the background of the second season’s “Death Gun” arc is a more fun watch. Karen Kohirumaki joins Gun Gale Online because it’s the only game that gave her “LLEN”, a short and cute avatar – much unlike her IRL self. In GGO she finds some new friends, particularly the borderline-insane Pitohui, and plays a bunch of tournaments as she discovers her competitive spirit.
It’s low-stakes but still exciting for the ease in which it gets you invested in the characters and their odd relationships. It’s also a far departure from the typical fantasy setting of videogame-anime series. Gun Gale Online is basically what PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or Call of Duty: Warzone would be if it were an MMO. Watching GGO’s mechanics and structure play out in the contests , and watching LLEN and Pito make friends amid the hail of bullets is a treat. -Josh
Devilman Crybaby: There are approximately two Devilman video games, which I only learned about for this blurb. But I’m still doing better than somebody on this list. Anyway, Devilman Crybaby, an adaptation of a classic 1970s Go Nagai manga that has already been adapted to death, ended up being one of the hottest anime of 2018. The original story holds up of course, but this version’s surreal style and direction from Masaaki Yuasa immediately makes a statement.
Despite its age, Devilman Crybaby thoughtfully tackles themes of identity, sexuality, and religion, treating the audience with intellectual respect the whole time. Yuasa’s adaptation stretches Devilman’s ugliness to the extremes, but in ways that are helpful in a modern context, rather than crass or exploitative. Also, Devilman no Uta 2018 is a banger. – Lucas
Fate/Extra Last Encore: Fate isn’t the easiest franchise to get into, but once you find your way in you’ll have a great time. From one of the world’s most popular mobile gacha games to hilariously overwritten pornography, there’s something for everyone.
One of the more curious entries is Fate/Extra, which started as a quirky PSP JRPG from now-defunct Imageepoch. Stuff introduced there seemed to catch on with fans, as while Imageepoch is long gone, Extra has stuck around. It was two sequels that are basically unofficial Musou spinoffs and various cameo appearances in spots like Grand Order. But if the JRPG and its weird, blind Rock, Paper, Scissors combat sounds iffy, Fate/Extra Last Encore is a totally solid anime adaptation that’ll catch you up so you can play the Extella series and know what’s going on. Sort of. – Lucas
Sweetness & Lightning: There’s nothing more comforting than a wholesome slice of life anime that just so happens to teach you how to cook at the same time. Sweetness & Lightning brings us into the home of a young widower and his very young daughter, both struggling after the loss. Meals are either microwaved or picked up at a conbini. A chance encounter with one of his students brings Kohei the opportunity to bring the joy of cooking into his home. It’s amazing to watch how home cooked meals bring new life to this small family, both through health meals and expanding their social circles. -Annette