If you’ve been charmed by the latest Netflix anime, CONSTANTINOS PSILLIDES suggest what to watch next
If you watch as much TV as I do, there comes a point when you believe you‘ve seen everything. Sure, every now and then the occasional film comes out where Ryan Gosling sings about the existential crisis of dolls and how the patriarchy needs to reclaim its rightful place, but those moments are too few and too far between. Being bombarded by almost identical movies is enough to make anyone cynical and pessimistic about the future of Hollywood. On a side note here, if I see one more movie where the middle-aged, emotionally repressed dad turns out to be a super-assassin I WILL LOSE MY S@1T!
It’s in those darkest hours that a hero always emerges: in this case, a series that made me fall in love with a story, be surprised by it, and stand in awe of the work and love put into it. Blue Samurai, an anime series on Netflix, is like nothing you’ve seen before. Even if you are an anime fan, this series will catch you by surprise with its gripping story, the well thought out character development (when was the last series you watched where you were equally invested in the protagonist and the side characters?) and the stunning animation. The battle sequences need to be seen to be believed. Blue Samurai is much, much longer than your typical anime series but manages to keep you interested throughout its runtime and at no point does it feel forced. You absolutely need to watch this but be warned: this is an adult series, with an adult theme and adult animation.
If you already watched it and are looking for something else to fill that katana-shaped hole in your heart, here are some suggestions.
Based on a series of video games, Onimusha is your standard anime series. Set in Edo period Japan, it tells the story of a samurai who travels across the country to kill demons called Genma. To assist him in his quest he has other samurai and a magical gauntlet that makes its user more powerful the more demons he kills. Here’s the catch though: the gauntlet slowly transforms its user into a demon. Will he manage to slay the demons before turning into one?
Bright: Samurai Soul
Remember a couple of years ago, when Will Smith starred in a bizarre film where he was a cop with an orc for a partner in a world that is almost identical to our own but it had magic and elves and goblins? Yes, that did happen. The film didn’t perform as expected so it wasn’t a surprise when plans for a sequel were scrapped. What was a surprise was to see an anime series come out taking place in the same world and for some reason in 17th century Japan. The plot is much like the movie: a human ronin (a masterless samurai) bands together with an Orc assassin to save an elf. Despite its original premise, Bright Soul is pretty formulaic but is exactly what you need if you are into samurai and anime!
Based on the historical figure Yasuke, who was a samurai of African origin in feudal Japan who served under Oda Nobunaga, the Great Unifier of Japan. After Nobunaga was defeated Yasuke disappears from the history books and this series come to fill in the gaps. The series is beautifully animated, made by the people behind Avatar sequel Legend of Korra and is pretty historically accurate.
Well, if you don’t count the giant death robots and laser guns.
Yasuke goes off the rails pretty quickly and evolves into a fantasy series so fast it actually catches you by surprise. The writers explain alternative realities and let’s be honest: if it is good enough an excuse for Marvel it’s good enough for an anime series. We brought this on ourselves.
Age of Samurai
With demons, elves and giant robots taken care of, it would be nice if we could add some actual history, especially for one of the most exciting periods in Japanese history. Enter Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan.
Combining interviews with experts and reenactments, this documentary series delves into the historical conflicts and influential individuals that have shaped Japan’s political landscape for over 150 years. It explores the evolution of samurai, tracing their ascent to a pivotal position of power and respect in Japanese society. Each episode examines different leaders, their military endeavours, and the fluctuations of their influence.