Okay, I know I’m not alone in the concept of those specific anime that everyone in the 2000s ‘graduated’ to. You know what I’m talking about, right? Like, we all went from watching the Big 3 Shounen on the Toonami block to these best similar anime that were much more ‘mature’. Anime that we considered a turning point in our viewing journey. In hindsight, of course, a lot of them aged better than the others, but they helped us develop our preferences further.
Now, when I say similar, I don’t mean that they shared the same genre or story. Rather, they involved similar themes that dealt with the concepts of death and violence, more fare that wasn’t rated for children to watch. But it’s interesting to see how anime viewing has evolved in the past two decades, and what an older generation classified as beginner anime and what constitutes the same now. Standards have changed, after all.
But what hasn’t changed is how some of the anime that we older weebs grew up on, still hold up. There are a few similar anime that are ubiquitous with being considered of ‘mature taste’ and that hasn’t died down. It’s interesting because, well, there is a generational gap between demographics here, and what we older fans considered mature back in the day, might just be beginner anime for the younger generation that simply has more variety to sift through. Some anime that we considered groundbreaking at the time, have become major classics for Gen Z and beyond.
So, do the best similar anime recommendations stay the same? Well, yes and no. While there are some anime that are still rewatchable even after decades, there are a few popular ones that aren’t as enjoyable anymore. And there are also some newer entries that most will agree on being the new classics. So, in today’s Get Ranked, I want to list down some of the best similar anime that you can recommend to your baby weeb friend for flavor!
10. Death Note
Look, is it not as smart as we all used to think it was? Definitely. But Death Note was a cultural phenomenon. Hell, I’d say it was the anime we all gravitated towards, thinking we were so cool and edgy for it.
But that’s because, in a way, Death Note was an interesting premise. Following Ryuk, we entered a world of detective chases and murder, powered by the supernatural that were the Shinigami. It was gritty, with Light Yagami being the kind of protagonist that often seemed anything but heroic. And L, with all his eccentricities, made the perfect foil to Light’s brand of justice dealt with swift execution. The point it made was very succinct: If power corrupts, then absolute power absolutely corrupts. And by the time the anime ended, you didn’t know if you were rooting for Light to continue killing those who got in his way, or waiting for his downfall because of how his hubris blinded him.
All in all, Death Note was the ideal example of a perfect storm. It came out at a time where the anime’s presence on the internet was just starting and teenagers were growing out of their Shounen phase. Death Note, with its themes of rebellion and punk soundtrack, was exactly what people were looking for.
9. Attack On Titan
Despite Attack On Titan being one of the newer entries in this list, I’d argue it’s one of the biggest ones by sheer popularity alone. There truly hasn’t been a series that’s quite like it, with how much following it has garnered over the years.
Initially, Attack On Titan followed Eren Yaeger, a child living in a world where humanity has been forced to hide behind walls against these monsters known as the Titans. Eren had already lost his mother to one of them during an attack, and so he vowed to enter the Survey Corps, a faction that is the only one able to counter the Titans, alongside his companion, Mikasa Ackerman. However, after his first big battle with the Titans, Eren learns that the very walls that kept the citizens safe? They hid dormant Titans inside. From there on, we fall with Eren into a plot full of old deceit, secret experiments and a government conspiracy that could end everything as we know it.
I think what appealed to fans about Attack On Titan, is how it balanced political discourse alongside its survival horror aspects. The very first episode of the series is beyond bloody, it holds no punches. And that’s how that’s the pace the story keeps up, with revelation after revelation shocking fans. In the end, it’s no wonder Attack On Titan became as big as it is now.
But that’s also because Code Geass was the perfect merger of politics and mecha anime. Created by CLAMP, Code Geass followed the story of Lelouch Vi Brittania, a prince who was exiled from the Holy Brittanian Empire by his own father. Lelouch forced to live as a political pawn in Japan with his sister, Nunnally after their mother was killed in front of them. But one day, Lelouch came across a mysterious woman named C.C., who bestowed upon him the power of the Geass, an ability that gave him absolute control and was known as the ‘Power Of Kings’. From there, Lelouch started his rebellion against the Emperor, Charles Zi Brittania, under the alias ‘Zero’.
If you liked mechs and a protagonist that felt more morally gray than a true hero, then Code Geass was the ultimate show. Its political discourse and complex characters were some of the best of its era, with themes of class conflict working alongside a well-paced plot. It’s still a great watch, to this day.
So, confession time: Vampire Knight was actually my first vampire anime. But after the whole incest thing with Kaname, I couldn’t justify continuing it. So, I needed a new fix. And boy, did Hellsing deliver.
Hellsing revolved around the Royal Order of Protestant Knights, a faction than was started by the original Abraham Van Hellsing to eradicate the supernatural forces of evil that threatens Earth. In modern times, it is being led by one Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, flanked by her ever present butler, Walter C. Dornez, and her bodyguard, Alucard. Turns out that this Alucard was the same Count Dracula that Van Hellsing had originally defeated, gaining his loyalty. And so, he aids Integra in her mission to help curb the supernatural threat, alongside Seras Victoria, a police officer turned vampire.
The thing is, has there been a vampire more iconic than Alucard in his all red ensemble? Okay, maybe that other Alucard from Castlevania. But Hellsing was yet another case of the right time, right place scenario. With proper gothic vibes coupled up with gunplay, Hellsing was dark, mysterious and easily binge worthy.
Look, I am aware that interest in this franchise has been revived by the recent release of Trigun: Stampede. But the old series from the 90s is still one of the best watches out there, with a story that is simultaneously bleak and inspiring.
Trigun follows Vash The Stampede, a gunslinging bounty hunter, and his journey through No-Man’s Land, a planet occupied by humans and powered by Plants. Vash is different because of the bounty placed over his own head, a number so exorbitant it makes no sense. Especially when Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson come across the feared man, who turns out to be more of a pacifist than some ruthless, bloodthirsty hunter. As the series goes on, we learn that Vash has no idea why he’s being hunted so hard nor what happened with the July incident. However, there is a lot more to Vash’s past than he lets on, a story of found allies, brothers lost and being broken down at every point but still persevering on.
I know Trigun was one of those anime that people know of, yet its story remains somewhat obscure. I think that’s for the best because going into this anime and experiencing it blind was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in a while. If you liked Cowboy Bebop, then Trigun is definitely similar.
Erased is a very peculiar pick, both in how recent it is, plus with the themes it explores. But honestly, it does deserve to be here, becoming a crowd favorite in very little time, even spawning a live action remake.
Despite its thriller aspect, the story is seeped in a fair bit of time travel. We start out with Satoru Fujinuma, who was 29 years old at the time and a delivery man in Chiba. We learn that Satoru possesses an ability called ‘Revival’, that could send him moments back in time before an accident occurs. However, when he stumbles upon his mother murdered in his apartment, Satoru finds himself 18 years in the past, bringing Satoru right at the heart of his childhood and a murder mystery. Now, he has a chance to make things right and prevent three of his childhood friends from going missing, as well as solve the case of who was doing the serial kidnapping.
There’s a reason why the manga for Erased was a bestseller, and the anime doesn’t fall far behind. With its eerie nature, Erased makes a case for itself with quiet dread and a sense of innocence lost. For a show without gore, it still ends up being unsettling, cementing itself as an instant classic.
You’d think that Monster was overhyped, with how much it’s talked about in anime spheres. But genuinely, there are so many crime-thrillers out there, and yet very few stand the test of time like Monster does.
Monster is a Seinen series that centers around Dr Kenzo Tenma, a gifted neurosurgeon stationed at Eiser Memorial Hospital in Germany. A man of honor, Dr Tenma is not happy with the clear bias the hospital shows when treating patients, favoring those with connections versus someone genuinely in need of urgent care. And so, when young Johan Liebert comes in, accompanied by his sister Anna, following a massacre? He sees a chance to make things right. Instead of operating on the mayor, who was admitted later, he helps Johan. As a result, the mayor dies but Johan gets a new lease on life. So, imagine Dr Tenma’s horror when Johan returns, only to kill a patient of his. Johan says he can’t kill the man that saved him, but Dr Tenma realizes he saved a monster that night.
Unsettling and bleak at times, Monster asks some pretty heavy philosophical questions. In the line of duty, was Dr Tenma right in saving a mere child, who grew up to be a murderer? Or should the good Mayor have gotten preference, despite being admitted later? There’s a reason why Monster is still highly regarded, and well worth the (re)watch!
Cowboy Bebop is an original Space Western anime by the famed Shinichirō Watanabe. It follows Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter aboard the Bebop, alongside his other crewmates and their journey across the stars. However, while all of them happen to be some form of an oddball, Spike hides a secret that’s far more insidious. He is running from a life of crime, being the ex-hitman for the Red Dragon Syndicate, led by Vicious. The bad blood between the two is coming to a boil, and Spike is learning that there are some things you just can’t run away from.
With its neo-noir vibes, Cowboy Bebop was like nothing on the screens at the time. It was one of the first anime to transcend animation in terms of commercial success, still being regarded as one of the best television series of all time. And honestly, I can’t argue. There’s a reason why everything about the series still feels fresh and bold, with its themes about existentialism resonating with viewers to this day.
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion
I think the anime police would probably arrest me if I didn’t mention Neon Genesis Evangelion in a list of some of the best similar anime that share the same fame. Like, it’s a certifiable classic, made for a mature audience and explores themes that would otherwise be questionable.
And oh boy, is it depressing. Following a worldwide event only known as the Second Impact, we see our protagonist, Shinji Ikari, become the center of attention for a shadowy organization simply called Nerv. However, it is spearheaded by his own father, Gendo Ikari, who recruits Shinji to man his new bio-machines, mechs only known as Evangelion, and fight the Angels, strange beings that are hell bent on eradicating mankind. From there, things only get harsher for young Shinji and his cohorts, as both the Eva pilots and members of Nerv are forced to consider just how far they are willing to go to protect humans, and what is it all even for.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is often considered a deconstruction of the mecha genre, thanks to its focus on the humanity of the pilots, and religious iconography that is so far removed from the sci-fi connotations we have grown accustomed to. This series was never for the faint of heart, but it is spectacular in its explorations of the human psyche.
1. FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
I think this is the one anime that every anime fan would agree with doing everything right. If there was ever such a thing as the ‘perfect anime’, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood would have that title, no doubt.
Alphonse and Edward Elric are two brothers who were cared for by their loving mother when their acclaimed alchemist of a father left them. However, Trisha Elric raises them best as she can, with the children showing promise in the arts of alchemy. However, Trisha tragically passed away, so Pinako takes them in. With her granddaughter, Winry Rockbell, Pinako helped the two brothers until they eventually started training under Izumi Curtis. But one day, they decide to bring their mother back through Human Transmutation, only for things to go very wrong. Alphonse’s body is decimated, and Edward loses his arm and leg to bring his brother back in a suit of armor. Together, they vow to bring their bodies back intact, whatever it takes.
A story of heart, sacrifices and love, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood does it like no other. Everything about the series hits all the right notes. No wonder it’s so ubiquitous amongst anime fans, old and new. This is one of those series you can not miss out on.
So, this was the list for what we consider the best similar anime that every anime fan matured into watching. And I have to say, revisiting them only makes me want to give them another go. What can I say, you can’t get enough of masterpieces, now can you?
But do you think we missed out on any key ones? What anime would you pick as the defining point in your weeb journey? Is there a list? Well, sound off below and let us know!