As anime becomes a more prominent international medium, anime-focused streaming sites are no longer the one-stop-shop for viewing. Audiences have grown and so has the interest of larger streaming platforms in acquiring titles. Of all the mainline services who have dipped their feet in the genre, Netflix has dived headfirst with an already expansive library of series and movies worth watching under its Netflix Original banner. These are the best anime that can only be found on the platform.
Great Pretender follows a group of swindlers as they embark on various heists. Makoto Edamura is a smalltime Japanese conman whose world changes forever when he tries to scam Laurent, a French national and fellow thief. Shortly after their meeting, he finds himself in Los Angeles being dragged into Laurent's newest scheme.
What truly stands out about Great Pretender is the incredible energy it brings from the jump. With exotic locales and elaborate undercover operations, it's reminiscent of the classic spy and heist films that it clearly draws inspiration from. Even the opening and ending sequences feel like they belong in a James Bond movie. These aspects all come together to create an experience that is incredibly charming and incomparable to other modern anime. Its first three arcs are available for immediate viewing with the fourth on the way later this year.
On the topic of unique stories with distinct worlds, Dorohedoro does both of these things -- in a completely different way. Taking place in The Hole, a desolate, industrial city where non-magic users reside, Dorohedoro centers on the duo, Kaiman and Nikaido, who hunt sorcerers in search of the one who changed Kaiman. A disfigured human with the head of a lizard, Kaiman has no memory before meeting Nikaido. As the pair embark on their adventures, they find themselves targeted by a group of sorcerers and grow closer to discovering the truth behind Kaiman's past over the course of Season 1.
Dorohedoro is at its peak when it teaches the viewer more about its world and characters. The dynamic between humans and sorcerers and the peculiar nature of the environments they inhabit leaves viewers wanting more. Even when you're done watching its single season, the desire to keep delving deeper and discover more of what it has to offer will remain.
A follow up to a classic from the early 2000s, Netflix's Baki continues the journey of its titular character in his quest to defeat Yujiro Hanma, the world's strongest creature -who also happens to be his own father. Despite sharing a name with the series, Baki is rather absent from most of the action in these new arcs. Instead, the focus shifts to his many allies who are luckily just as capable and entertaining to watch.
Being a martial arts series, the highlight of Baki is its fight scenes, which are admittedly a bit formulaic. Each sequence pits two fighters against each other as they continually push the other to the limit, pulling back the advantage just when it seems like they are out for the count; pulling out every hidden technique or physical feat of strength to turn the tables entirely. But this predictability does not at all detract from the entertainment value of each encounter. With each fighter bringing their own style and approach to any given situation, Baki is a must-watch for lovers of well-coordinated anime action.
Hi Score Girl
A show about a different kind of combat, Hi Score Girl travels back in time to 1991, the golden age of arcades. After Haruo runs into his classmate Akira on the other side of a Street Fighter II cabinet, the two find themselves intertwined in each other lives from that day forward. Despite being polar opposites, a relationship sparks between the two, making for an unlikely pairing.
A story of romance and youth, the series is a love letter not just to the games prominent in it but the culture and relationships that bloomed from it. Hi Score Girl is a window into a bygone era and shows those who were too young to experience it just what was so precious about it. With its unique art style, and a genuine passion that oozes from every reference within it, the series is incredibly charming and a nice change of pace from other more highly-charged shows.
In the world of Beastars, there exist two groups: carnivores and herbivores. While many species have come together to form an advanced society, they do so in a careful balance. The consumption of meat is illegal and carnivores are prohibited from attacking herbivores, but laws can be broken. Following the maiming of an herbivore student at his school, Legoshi, a gray wolf, encounters Haru, a dwarf rabbit, and finds his growing feelings for her at odds with his primal instincts in a story of romance, betrayal and identity.
The series shares many parallels with Zootopia as it chronicles a society of anthropomorphic animals in a modern setting but approaches the tension between its social demographics in a much deeper and more creative way. Its mature rating works in its favor, allowing the series to truly explore every aspect of its world. This interesting world-building, combined with some top-notch characters, makes Beastars a series viewers are sure to find compelling.
A deep dive into humanity and the experiences that link individuals together, Violet Evergarden is one of the latest projects from Kyoto Animation. Known for its breathtaking visuals, the studio does not disappoint here, with some of the most beautiful environments and portrait shots in anime. Its main character is a veteran who, following the war's conclusion, decides to find a new purpose as an auto memory doll -- a traveling writer who helps others put their feelings into the words of letters. On these travels, she encounters countless individuals and their stories, each of which serves as a valuable lesson in developing her own sense of belonging.
By far the most emotional series on this list, this show pulls no punches and is not afraid to tug at heartstrings and get the waterworks going. An anthology of Violet's travels, the series' stories are each unique and bring their own themes to the table, making at each one resonate deeply with viewers. For fans of drama and emotionally-driven stories, Violet Evergarden is essential watching.