Netflix is a giant when it comes to anything streaming, which even includes Anime. Most recently, they have not only licensed and distributed Anime, but they’re also creating their own original Anime.
Comic Years previously covered the best Netflix original Anime content, which were actually not that ‘original’. That content consisted of adaptations of popular Manga stories or remakes of already popular Anime. Admittedly, that was Netflix’s first step into the genre after licensing the rights to already aired Anime. However, they have also commissioned their own completely original film and series for streaming.
So, here are the 5 best Netflix Anime content, created exclusively for them.
Aggretsuko: The most successful Netflix original anime
Aggrestsuko is one of Netflix’s first original productions. The story is about a highly aggressive red panda who is frustrated with her life as an accountant.
Image via Netflix.
In one of Netflix’s more risky moves, the streaming giant commissioned an original Anime music comedy series about an angry panda. It is exactly as weird as it sounds. But Aggretsuko is pretty amazing given its off-the-wall comedy, surprisingly good music, and incredibly relatable characters and story arcs.
The hero of this story seeks relief from her life by singing Death Metal in a Karaoke bar. It is a wonderfully fun concept. While this release worked for her for 5 years, it no longer does the trick. Recent events, which we don’t want to spoil, set into motion a series of life-changing moments that sees Retsuko re-evaluate the people and relationships in her life.
Despite its a gimmick of a cute panda becoming rage-fun and violent during karaoke, Aggretsuko transcends its story. The show features a full office setting, with a leading female character who takes on some gender politics as well, but never in a preachy way.
2 seasons of Aggretsuko are currently streaming on Netflix with a third on the way.
Swordgai: The Animation
Swordgai is one of Netflix’s original Anime based on a Manga. It’s one of the very few adaptations that sees the original Manga writer return to script the series. Swordgai is the story about a boy’s connection to a weapon in a unique fantasy world.
Image via Netflix.
Toshiki Inoue created the original Managa series, and he returned to write on the show. The modern world setting sees humans bond with weapons to become one and use the weapon at will. The downside is that this bond eventually turns them into demons. This creates many avenues of storytelling. There’s a shadowy organization that seeks to cure these bonded people. One mystery surrounding the bonded is that they appear to stop aging.
The story of Swordgai is about one specific boy. While pregnant, his mother bonded with a special sword. However, before she could become demonized, she took her own life. A weapon maker finds the now orphaned newborn and takes him in. One day, the boy, Gai, loses his arm. The weapon maker fashions a new arm for him, using the very sword that bonded with his mother. This makes Gai an even more unique individual in a world that’s already pretty unique.
Swordgai’s story is what makes it stand out. It’s great world-building with amazing character work. However, the Anime was less than favourably received. The main complaints about the series center around its pacing and unsatisfactory payout at the ends of its initial run. It seems that the makers may have originally wanted more than 12 episodes in its first season. But Netflix’s streaming model may have placed those restrictions on that episode limit.
Swordgai: The Animation is currently streaming on Netflix.
B: The Beginning
One of Netflix’s original anime is just that, an entirely original anime series created solely for Netflix. And despite not being based on any previous source materials, it’s pretty darn good.
Image via Netflix.
B: The Beginning takes many aspects of commercial Hollywood films and television to create an appealing series. The writing behind the show is brilliant and makes the show incredibly watchable. The animation techniques are visually stunning and the pacing happens at breakneck speed.
The story is about a Sherlock Holmes-like detective called back into service after the emergence of a new serial killer. Named Killer B, the killer targets other criminals, but his unique methods are what leads our hero, Kieth, back into the fold. B: The Beginning follows an almost CSI-style procedural format as they track down this serial killer. There’s also another angle to the show that features more Anime-staples like supernatural plans, possible demons, and an otherworldly plot.
The setting of B: The Beginning is pretty different. The world looks seemingly modern-day, with advanced technology, with certain elements looking very retro and old fashioned. The pacing of the story is high speed. While there is some disconnect between the various plots intersecting, it connects well enough to keep following the show.
B: The Beginning is one of very few Netflix original Anime not based on any prior source material, and in that regards, it’s a success. Netflix already ordered Season 2 for B: The Beginning.
A.I.C.O. is yet another original Anime created solely for Netflix. The story sees a science fiction utopia with experiments gone wrong, techno-fantasy, and a lot of action.
Image via Netflix.
The series follows an accident in a futuristic city that leads to a massive disaster. When some artificial cells run rampant and start swallowing everything in sight, it leads to tragedy later dubbed the Burst. Many die in this incident, which ends in the Sea of Japan. Divers are then tasked in assessing the situation and salvage anything worth recovering. And that’s just the setting.
The story of A.I.C.O. follows a young high school girl. Having lost her family in the Burst, she is recovering through physiotherapy herself. A new mysterious student appears and reveals to her that she is an artificial being, with only the mind of the girl transferred in her fake body. Trying to make sense of these new revelations, the girl decides to head to where it all began. She joins the divers in going back to the Burst.
A.I.C.O. incarnation is an intensely interesting and completely science-fiction style show. The series is amazing in its action sequences that feature new animation techniques, that studio Bones is almost infamous for. The character-driven story, with the unlikely protagonist in a world of military and science, provides for great contrast. The protagonist also wonderfully acts as the audience’s proxy into this highly advanced world.
A.I.C.O. Incarnation is definitely worth the watch, especially for hardcore sci-fi fans.
Imagine The Matrix, (already influenced heavily by anime) taking place as an anime. That’s the idea behind Blame! A Netflix original movie.
Blame! Is based on a Manga series from over 20 years ago. The creator is the same as another Netflix original, Knights of Sidonia. The main character of Blame! featured in a small clip in a television show in Sidonia, that the fictional characters of that show were watching. The positive response to that scene caused the creator to adapt Blame! into a movie of its own. The original team behind the Manga series re-adapted their work for modern times for the Netflix original. It’s one of the few Netflix originals that had a day and date release in theatres in Japan and on streaming worldwide.
Blame!, as I mentioned, is The Matrix. Basically. The setting is a city controlled by robots that is ever-growing. Other machines known as Safeguards hunt down the remaining humans. The pockets of human civilization that remain are completely isolated from one another. So much so that they’ve largely evolved on their own, without any connection to other humans. The story focuses on Killy, a gunslinger who travels between these pockets. Killy becomes embroiled in the stories of other characters as the Safeguards try to hunt them down.
Blame! has been praised for its incredibly well-told story, character development and crazy action sequences between man and machine. The frantic pacing of the story also lends well to a feature film format. The original creator’s involvement with the producing of the film can be credited with the improvements to the movie, from the manga.
Despite Netflix’s splotchy record with their originals, Blame! has gotten favourable reviews.
Which is your favourite actual Netflix original Anime? Let us know in the comments below.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.