Covid-19 Lockdown: the Sequel – Anime Picks for Survival

“In between those Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings there is a plethora of quality Japanese animation to catch-up on, so here is a list of easily accessible Anime to get you through these difficult times”

Like an inevitable movie sequel, the UK, among many other countries too, are back in Covid-19 isolation. As the virus continues to spread across the globe, many have been told to work from home and isolate where possible. Restaurants, bars and most non-essential shops have closed once again, and many people’s living rooms have become their office. For others that may mean not being able to work at all. Staying indoors for long periods can of course take its toll in different ways to all of us. But don’t fear, as in between those Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings there is a plethora of quality Japanese animation to catch-up on. So here is a list of easily accessible Anime to get you through these difficult times. Because even a month can feel like forever. All the best to those struggling during these unprecedented times.

Dragon Ball Super

What better way to spend your abundance of free time than bingeing on a long-running, instant classic? Dragon Ball Super is the sequel series to the incomparable Dragon Ball Z. So, forget about that Dragon Ball GT boxset on your shelf and watch the real thing. 131 episodes and 5 sagas should pass the time on nicely. Even if you have already watched the DBZ movies Battle of Gods and Resurrection F it is still worth catching the whole action-packed series. The later sagas boast some of the best looking animated visuals ever seen on screen, and with a Crunchyroll account, the entire series (subtitled only) can be viewed for free.

Dragon Ball Super is also available on Blu-Ray/DVD by chapters or complete box set.

Cowboy Bebop

Let’s all be honest with each other here. We all have it on our DVD/Blu-Ray shelf, sitting pretty amongst all the other anime. But now is the best time to sit and watch those classics you worked so hard to get the best bargain online. Cowboy Bebop certain ranks amongst the all-time classic anime series. Experience a future of legal bounty hunters, otherwise known as ‘Cowboys’, as they chase bad guys across moons orbiting around a now-inhabitable planet Earth. Although only twenty-six episodes, it is an intergalactic crime caper entertainment of the highest order. It also stands as quite possibly the best single-season anime of all time.

Cowboy Bebop is available on DVD/Blu-Ray, and to stream for free via All 4.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

The prominence of anime on Netflix in recent times is remarkable. In the last twelve months alone, the contingent of classic anime additions bolster an already impressive library of latest releases. One such classic is Neon Genesis Evangelion. Seemingly left in license limbo, Netflix also went to town on this acquisition by having the English dub track re-casted and re-recorded. Make of that what you will (believe me, many have), but nevertheless, Evangelion truly does rank among the greats. What starts out as high school kids piloting world-saving robots against prophesised alien lifeforms known as Angels, descends into a fascinating crescendo of mental health, trauma and depression against an ever-escalating apocalyptic landscape. You can feel that director Hideaki Anno has poured his absolute heart and soul into this, and remains a work that Anno himself confessed was left completely burnt out after its conclusion. Twenty-five years on, Neon Genesis Evangelion remains as remarkable and essential anime viewing as you’re ever likely to see.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is available to stream on Netflix.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn

This original video animation adaption is another Netflix entry worthy of your watch list. This series of seven, mini-movie length episodes were released over a period of four years. MSG: Unicorn follows Banagher Links, a schoolboy, like many, residing in the space colony Industrial 7. His life turns upside down after meeting and rescuing disguised princess Audrey Burne and encountering a new Gundam armour. What follows is seven and a half hours of amazing action-adventure storytelling, and an audio-visual spectacle. MSG: Unicorn could easily be thrown in among the space opera genre on its appearance alone, which does it no harm, but at its heart and soul it is a highly-entertaining quest story. For those concerned, you do not need to be cultured in the way of Gundam in any way to know what is happening. Just sit back, relax, and let the fantastic action guide you through.  

Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn is available to buy on Blu-Ray and to stream on Netflix.

Devilman: Crybaby

The best Netflix-produced anime out there, Devilman Crybaby, is one of the most batshit crazy and apocalyptic series you’re ever likely to come across. This modern-day retelling of the 1970’s Go Nagai manga powers through the origin of Devilman, AKA Akira Fudo, and how becoming the ultimate anti-hero changes his life and of those around him. Love, betrayal, violence (a LOT of violence) and drama come together in this ten-episode onslaught on the senses. Forget the hilariously-dubbed Manga effort, Devilman Crybaby is as raw as they come.

Devilman Crybaby is available to stream on Netflix.

We’re a few days into the current UK national lockdown, what have you watched so far, or intend to whilst at home for the next three weeks?

Neon Genesis Evangelion is Now Streaming on Netflix, and You Really Should Watch It

“But Evangelion is far more than just a typical “Mecha” series. If anything, it is a total deconstruction of the genre”

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What a time to be alive. For a number of years now, particularly in the UK, availability of anime from the 80’s and 90’s has been at a premium. The founding flourishing anime market that exploded thanks to Manga Video, ADV Films and others, has seen many Anime licenses come and indeed, go. In the case of Neon Genesis Evangelion, it remains one of the few exceptions to that trend. And with good reason; Evangelion excels in almost every department. And thanks to Netflix, as of today, the franchise now has a new home.

Neon Genesis Evangelion was animated by studio GAINAX, which is also known for the superb Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, as well as the surreal FLCL. Often described as an apocalyptic, psychological drama, Evangelion depicts how teenager Shinji Ikari’s life is changed completely after he is summoned by his estranged father, Gendo, and pressured to pilot a secret paramilitary robot suit, known as an Eva. Gendo’s organisation, NERV, is the world’s last defence against giant monster-like beings called Angels.

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But Evangelion is far more than just a typical “Mecha” series. If anything, it is a total deconstruction of the genre. Shinji must learn to cope with his father who had previously abandoned him, saving the world, and growing up. He is desperate for acceptance in a world where he feels abandoned and alone. Eva’s can only be piloted by children,  and fellow pilots Asuka and Rei have their own emotional issues also, and must learn to cope with the pressures of piloting together. It’s a psychological cocktail that also boasts several fantastic action sequences.

The series is the definitive entry point for the franchise. In mid to late 90’s UK, where the anime scene was growing but still in its infancy, Evangelion was significant as part of that growth. In Japan however, Evangelion erupted the genre from a slump and quickly became a social phenomenon and new guiding light.

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The series’ production wasn’t without its own controversies, however. Rumours of production and budget issues at Gainax led to some visible decay in editing. Since that time it has been attributed more to director Hideake Anno’s creative process and changes. The final 2 episodes in particular polarised fans the world over, and shook the anime world at the time.

Ultimately, this led to the creation of 2 Evangelion movies; Death (True)2, an alternative, condensed cut of the series, and End of Evangelion, an alternative ending movie, just 2 years later. End of Evangelion has garnered its own deserved and widespread critical acclaim.

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The Netflix streams feature the original Japanese audio, plus a brand new English dub. This dub replaces the English dub used for the original ADV Films release and Manga Entertainment releases of the TV series and films, respectively. There are also multiple subtitle options available.

Having reached episode 5 at the time of writing, the high-definition remaster is very impressive, as is the new English dub. The original soundtrack is intact and sounds better than ever. With the first chords of its brilliant theme song I was immediately taken back to my college youth, collecting the 2-episode length VHS tapes every few weeks at a time when DVD was barely a reality.

Also At the time writing, these Netflix Evangelion anime titles are currently not available for home release as the licenses from ADV Films (TV series) and Manga Entertainment (Films) have since expired. More recently Hideako Anno has been working on the Rebuild of Evangelion films. The first movie starts with a remake of the first six episodes, with 3 subsequent movies taking an entirely new direction. The first 3 films are currently available on DVD/Blu-Ray, entitled 1.0 You Are (not) Alone2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, and 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. The fourth and final film Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 is scheduled for release in Japan next year.

Netflix pages for each Evangelion entry:-

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Evangelion: Death(true)2

The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a tremendous feat in animation, drama and action. It serves as one of the glowing examples of the anime genre, and has been instrumental in growing its fan base across the world. And now, almost 25 years on, thanks to Netflix, its bound to grow even more.