By Briana Lawrence
“Oh woe is me,” I think to myself as I scroll through the Funimation website.
“I have to research anime for work.” That being said, trying to narrow down an entire streaming service’s worth of supernatural titles is a daunting task.
“Supernatural “and “anime” go together like ramen and Naruto, so there’s a lot of series to choose from. Here’s the good news: the comments on social media will, inevitably, have more recommendations for you to check out (which is bad news for my ongoing queue).
But I digress. Let’s take a look at five supernatural anime series worth spending your time with this summer.
The currently airing and obviously wonderful choice: Fruits Basket
Back in college (early to mid ’00s), my friends and I would have conversations about what anime series we wanted more episodes of. Fruits Basket was always on our list. You can imagine the sheer amount of fangirl screaming when, over a decade later, I finally got my wish in the form of the new, manga-accurate adaptation!
RELATED: What Are You Watching? Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket sets out to tell more of the story, complete with new animation that reminds me of looking at a painting that sets out to soothe your restless spirit (and if the animation doesn’t, best girl Tohru Honda will).
But Fruits Basket is a lot more than just slice of life hijinks—though those hijinks are plenty fun to watch. The Soma family hosts a slew of heartbreaking secrets: their dark undertones just so happen to be wrapped in cursed, huggable animals…OK, maybe don’t hug them. A good series for newcomers and a nice restart for fans like me who still have that Hatsuharu double-sided cow hat in their closet, Fruits Basket easily makes this list.
The currently airing and “You should totally catch up on this one!” choice: Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation
I have a soft spot for anime series with characters who not only acknowledge the supernatural, but turn the pursuit of it into a job. In the case of Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, magic comes with a hefty law book, and justice is a dish best served via exorcism.
At first glance, the series doesn’t look like it’ll get as dark as it does, especially when you first meet the grumpy sleepyhead, Muhyo, and his kindhearted-to-a-fault partner, Roji. But we all know how anime loves lowering our defenses.
Many of the spirits our protagonists face illustrate why I watch certain series with the lights on. I wasn’t expecting the monstrous creatures, nor was I expecting the brutal methods of exorcism, especially with the tragic backstories for the city’s restless spirits. Sure, they need to be exorcised, but does Hades really need to eat that lonely, teenage girl? Regardless, if supernatural mystery is your jam, consider Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation!
The choice with the 12-episode season you’ll binge without realizing it: Toilet-bound Hanako-kun
Have you heard about Hanako-kun? Or rather, have you heard about Kamome Academy? Why have one Japanese urban legend when you can have seven? Hanako, at least, grants you a wish (for a price).
All it takes is three knocks on the third stall in the girls’ bathroom on the third floor to meet the…boy? Isn’t Hanako female? No matter; all Yashiro wants is for senpai to notice her (that’s not a meme–that’s legit what she wants).
Hanako, much to Yashiro’s surprise, suggests completely ordinary senpai-noticing methods. In fact, why does she even like senpai beyond oh em gee it’s senpai!? Again I digress, but this is a supernatural anime, y’all, so it doesn’t take long for everything to escalate quickly!
It’s not just the beautiful imagery and the series lead that works for me in Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, it’s the premise itself. The stories the students whisper to one another have been blown out of proportion, directly affecting the supernatural beings Yashiro comes across! It’s not always about destroying the evil, it’s about keeping a balance between our world and theirs.
The recent choice that deserves all its flowers: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
I’m the anime watcher who is always late to the party, so I jumped on the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba train after everyone else had watched it, told me to watch it, asked me if I had watched it yet, and, once again, recommended that I watch it. So much hype can overwhelm a series (and even turn potential viewers off), but real talk? Everyone was right.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is phenomenal.
Right off the bat, it looks like the tragic setup you might expect out of an anime like this: A slaughtered family; protagonist seeking revenge; plethora of demons to fight along the way.
What makes the series for me (besides the ridiculously breathtaking animation, unique creatures, and intense battles) is its lead. It’s hard not to love Tanjiro Kamado, whose determination manages to be admirable, nerve-racking, and tragic all at once. His relationship with his sister Nezuko is heartwarming, reminding me of my own older brother, and the rest of the cast manages to be just as engaging as he is. With a movie on the way I find myself joining everyone else in saying…
The old-school choice: Yu Yu Hakusho
Listen. This one might not be high on many of your lists, but I can’t help but love this series. For those who aren’t familiar with Yusuke Urameshi, let me invite you onto a flying oar and guide you into the Spirit World.
Yusuke’s the delinquent protagonist who will throw a shoe at his opponent if he has to. Oh, and he, like, dies in the first episode, attends his own funeral, starts working for a toddler, recruits his big-haired rival, a short-tempered demon, and a redhead who takes botany to a dangerous level.
What I love about Yu Yu Hakusho (besides its high-energy fight scenes and way-too-catchy opening) is that through all that zaniness, Yusuke is just so…normal. He gets tossed into some bizarrely relatable situations, is always the underdog, and his bighearted, foul-mouth personality stays intact the entire time. When life gives you lemons, flip off your antagonists–then use that finger to blast them with spirit energy!
I hope you enjoyed my picks! Please be gentle when you bulk up my queue with what I inevitably missed when you share this post and let me know!
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