Top 10 Anime Series That Are Great to Binge Watch
Ah, binge watching stuff, my favorite sport. When I'm not refreshing my memory of the last season of Game of Thrones in time for the next one, or watching The Tudors for the history and not the nekked Henrycake (I'm lying), of course I like to watch anime, and some series just work better if you watch a bunch of episodes in a row than if you just watch one at a time. Of course, a story like Puella Magi Madoka Magica is good because each episode flows into the other, but I wanted to do shows that are at least 26 episodes, lending themselves to multiple binge sessions. So get some coffee, make a blanket fort, and hunker down for my top 10 favorite anime series for binge watching.
10. Naruto Shippuden
Even though there are many individual episodes to this that are boring, if you consume it by the story arc, it becomes much better. The interesting thing is that these episodes rarely have a self-contained story that ends when the episode ends. Instead, it's all one long epic tale that spans across many episodes. It's more serious and deep than other shows, and better in my opinion than the original Naruto, because characters' traits that annoyed me in the original Naruto are much improved upon here. Most noticeably, Sakura has become a better fighter, less boy-obsessed, less cliche, and is on her way to becoming an expert healer, and Naruto has become less stupid and less loud/annoying. Isn't maturity a great thing?
9. Death Note
This one's not quite as long as others on this list (I tend to think of long-runners as ideal for binging, because then you can watch them over the course of several binges), but it does have that idea of being more fun to watch in terms of arcs than in terms of individual episodes. Similarly to Shippuden or other shounen series, Death Note has episodes that flow into one another instead of any one episode standing alone. You could even look on Wikipedia and find the episode list and plan your binges by breaking the show up by story arc. Plus, let's be honest, one of the drawbacks to this show is that the plot is convoluted and detailed as f*ck, so maybe if you watch episodes one right after the other, it will make more sense, because you won't forget as much between episodes.
I've always loved me a good horror story with slasher chases and creepy children, and oh boy is this the perfect show for that. Boring protagonist Keiichi transfers to a school in a small town where the cute little girls he meets are not all they seem. He uncovers the towns' dark secrets while trying to avoid becoming a victim of his classmates' insanity. Like other shows, this one is neatly broken up into story arcs, so watching a few episodes at a time is an ideal way to see this show.
8. Neon Genesis Evangelion
I always get something new every time I watch Neon Genesis Evangelion. While the show is good for if you want to obsessively over-analyze individual episodes or scenes, it also works surprisingly well for watching in sessions of 3-5 episodes at a time. It can roughly be broken down into
- before Asuka appears,
- when Asuka was a brat,
- the part where sh*t gets weird, and then
- the part where sh*t gets even weirder.
For best results, I'd recommend watching End of Evangelion afterwards.
7. Fairy Tail
Like with most long-running shounen series, Fairy Tail is best if watched by the arc or in chunks of episodes, instead of one episode at a time. Fairy Tail is light-hearted and fun, and like other shounen series, it focuses on friendships and character development. It's cute, funny, and the magic and monsters make it interesting.
6. Dragon Ball (Various Series)
Whether you watch Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Super, or the one I'm not going to mention because it sucked, or even if you just binge watch a bunch of the movies, the Dragon Ball universe is great for if you want to just shut off your brain for a while and watch some hot, manly studs fighting each other in... midair... for some reason. To see a great fight, watch any one episode, but if you want to see them defeat the villains, you might be there a while. Magic and mayhem make this long-running story one unforgettable roller coaster ride.
5. Rurouni Kenshin
This classic samurai epic takes place in the Meiji Restoration period of Japanese history, which saw the country open up to foreign influence and attempt to catch up to the West in terms of modernization and industrialization, eroding the traditional samurai way of life. The conflicts are essentially microcosms of the larger political strife within Japan, so each battle is like a battle for Japan's soul. Like with Dragon Ball Z or many shounen, in each episode you're guaranteed a great fight, but it is good to watch a bunch of related episodes at once so you get more narrative detail.
Coming from around the same time period, I own this one on box set and have binged it a few times, including the movie, Badlands Rumble. This is a long, continuous story of Vash the Stampede fleeing from town to town as he is always being hunted by someone. It's about the grueling search for peace in a harsh society. I like the comedy in this show, because it really does relieve the stress of the harrowing nature of what the main characters endure. It may have mood whiplash due to this at first, but gets more serious as the story progresses, when Vash realizes he can't run from his past or his brother forever.
3. Black Butler
Got to love the Victorian/Gothic atmosphere of this exciting anime about deals with the devil, serial killers, demons, and grim reapers, abounding in so much homo-erotic subtext you'd think it were written by Oscar Wilde. It's about solving crime and investigating mysteries with both natural and supernatural causes. And about the one family in town you do not mess with.
2. Sailor Moon/ Sailor Moon Crystal
The original is just called Sailor Moon, with subsequent seasons being called Sailor Moon S, SuperS, R, and Stars, the latter of which was not released in the U.S. at first due to some of the subject matter being considered too taboo for American audiences at the time (having boys who transform into girls and back). The original series is a classic, and although the Monster of the Week formula can get tiring, the best way to watch this is several episodes at a time, so you can see more of the development of the plot. This is one of the best 'girl power' fantasy shows, so if that's your thing, check this out. I like Crystal, the recent reboot, well enough, but it does kind of rush exposition and back story a bit, so it's better for fans who have already watched the original series enough to be already familiar with the characters and their stories. But, Crystal might be better if you want glamour, maturity, less goofy humor, and more epic fight scenes.
Things I Either Currently Binge Watch, or Have Before:
Other Anime I Like to Binge Watch:
Non-Anime Shows/ Films I Binge Watch:
Studio Ghibli Movies
Ghost in the Shell (Movies and Anime Series)
Game of Thrones
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Hayate the Combat Butler
Sword Art Online
Xena: Warrior Princess
Stanley Kubrick films
Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040
Crime Drama films
Ushio & Tora
History documentaries or comedy (Horrible Histories, Black Butler, etc.)
Original Star Wars Trilogy
Star Trek (Original and Next Generation)
Lord of the Rings films
1. Attack on Titan
This is a horror survival story about three young military recruits, Eren, Armin, and Mikasa, who are being trained to battle gigantic humanoid monsters called Titans. Humanity knows very little about them, but it's dangerous to fight an enemy you don't understand. What we do know, is these things love to eat people, so when they breach one of three walls humanity has held them off with, it's an "oh sh*t!" moment for sure. This anime is engaging and suspenseful, and the violence has a strong emotional impact on the characters. Like Mad Max: Fury Road, it's easy to see the insane amount of violence in this show and write it off for that reason. But, also like Mad Max: Fury Road, it's more about the hope that the world can some day become a better place, and about the grueling struggle to retain humanity in a brutal conflict, than it is a mere mindless display of gratuitous carnage.
So, anime wouldn't be the same without the internet and binge watching. Nothing beats a cozy evening or weekend in your pajamas watching your favorite show. What you binge watch really depends on your personality and what kinds of stories you like. If you want ultra girly, go for Revolutionary Girl Utena, Sailor Moon, or Ouran High School Host Club. For intense drama and serious action, something like Attack on Titan might be better. It all depends on what you're in the mood for, but anime has a wide variety of options. Happy binging!