HBO Max is the newest and hottest service to make us ponder the costs and benefits of paying for another streaming subscription, and boy I am excited. Not because I plan on buying it myself for the foreseeable future, but because I know a lot of other people will and HBO Max just so happens to have a fair selection of anime.
Not only does it have a library of 21 Studio Ghibli films, including my personal favorite, The Cat Returns, but it also has a hub of select shows from Crunchyroll. 16 shows in total, which seems low considering how expansive their library is, but the selection they have brought over is… rather well-refined.
I’m excited about HBO Max’s anime selection for the same reason people are excited about some of DC’s content being on HBO Max. In the case of DC, many are happy that some of the better DC content recently such as Doom Patrol will possibly get more attention now that it is on a service that stands to be more popular than DC’s service, DC Universe.
Of course, I say this right after DC up and took some of those very same films used to hype up HBO Max off of the service right after it launched. Let’s just pray the same doesn’t happen with HBO’s Crunchyroll library and therefore invalidates this entire post.
Despite that, I’m hoping that this smaller selection of shows will gain traction and popularity. In that same vein, I want to name just a few anime from HBO Max’s selection that I think should be your top priority. I’m only going to name shows that I have watched though, so don’t be mad if I don’t hype up Konosuba like everyone else in the world has.
If you like my blog, consider becoming a patron!
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Studio Bones
Too basic? I think not.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood has always carried a similar cultural footprint to the likes of Avatar: The Last Airbender. They are both action-adventure odysseys with a broad appeal that tread myriad themes and tones, all while slowly amassing large casts of fleshed out and iconic characters.
In the case of Brotherhood, the more faithful re-adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s acclaimed manga, it feels like an occasionally darker step up from The Last Airbender that fans of that show will adore. It is an absolute classic that has stood the test of time and cemented Studio Bones’ career as one of the premier studios in the industry.
At 64 episodes, it is longer than the original 2003 series and has one of the most lengthy and fleshed out conclusions to a story I have ever seen. the last 12 or so episodes detail the final battle of the series, a multi-tiered assault that brings every remaining character into one place in a culmination of character motivations and political suspense.
The first half is excellent. The conclusion is legendary. However, I will say the midsection can be a bit longer of a slog or at least less memorable, but that’s mostly because it’s been a while since I watched the show. Still, I’m content to call it like it is and say that Brotherhood is essential viewing for anyone looking to get wrapped up in an epic series.
64 episodes. Japanese with English Subtitles and English Dub. English Dub preferred.
2. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! – Studio Science Saru
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu Na is a show about three girls who want to make anime. Compared to other shows about the anime industry such as Shirobako or Girlish Number, Eizouken is perhaps the most broadly-appealing show that touches upon the same subject matter. It is a lot more lighthearted and fantastical while still being incredibly insightful towards how the industry operates.
Viewers with a keen interest in the medium will find a show brimming with charm and heart that resonates with all creative types. More casual viewers will still find much to enjoy in the lovable weirdos captaining the story. Eizouken is already one of the best shows of year, having come out right at the start, and if the competition doesn’t kick it off the throne, it may very well end up being the best of the 2020 by the time it finally and mercifully ends.
12 episodes. Japanese with English Subtitles.
3. Bungo Stray Dogs – Studio Bones
Look, if you follow my blog this may seem biased but cut me some slack.
Ever since my last essay on BSD, I have concluded that it is my new favorite show of all time. Unlike some of my other favorites, it is popular and has an appreciable amount of recognition. It’s clear the people licensing it also have a high opinion of it based on how often it is praised as an editor’s choice. However, I want even more people to experience it, and being on HBO might be a great opportunity for it.
Bungo is a show about heroes and villains set in a modern Yokohama, Japan. Every character has a superpower and is based and named after a real-life author. It’s a character-focused, heavily aesthetic detective show with a somewhat reserved thematic study of society that gets more interesting the more you dissect it.
More than anything, the show looks beautiful. By season three, I felt like every shot in the series was good looking enough to be film-quality, yet on a TV budget. Every time I watch it I find new ways to fall in love with it. Granted, this is a love that builds over time. Season one is pretty good. Season two is great. Finally, season three is what allows me to look back on the show as a whole as a masterpiece.
If there is any show on HBO Max you have to watch, it is this show.
For more of my thoughts on the series, read these below. Be mindful of spoilers in the last analysis.
36 episodes and one film. Japanese with English Subtitles preferred.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – WIT Studio
In the interim between seasons one and two of Attack on Titan, the same team got together for an original series heavily reminiscent of that show. It ended up being divisive for its story in the second half and has largely faded into obscurity after Attack on Titan resumed. However, I would say it’s one of the most beautiful looking shows I’ve seen in a long time.
The art style is a throwback to the artwork of anime from the 80s and 90s, with a style of shading that just isn’t seen anymore. Character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto is essential in creating this effect, having worked on the designs for classic entries in Gundam and Macross, as well as Hideaki Anno’s Gunbuster back in the day.
I’d like to see the series continue. Despite its flaws, I think it’s worth checking out for the astounding artwork. And now that WIT Studio isn’t working on Titan anymore, hopefully more sequels are in our future.
Kiznaiver – Studio Trigger
One could call this show teen melodrama incarnate and I would agree.
Kiznaiver is about a group of kids all connected through a system that makes them share their sense of pain as part of an experiment for world peace. And that’s pretty much it. The story is one of forced connection and thus is a meta character study. It takes known anime tropes and turns them into a modern interpretation of the seven deadly sins.
It’s another show that was divisive because of its story but that flourishes thanks to the consistency and quality of its art and animation, with beautiful character designs by Shirow Miwa.
Erased – Studio A1 Pictures
I’ll be honest with you, Erased‘s ending isn’t that good, but it is at least conclusive enough that you don’t have to worry about a sequel ruining it.
Erased is a show about a guy who randomly gets sent back in time before terrible things happen and tries to prevent them. When a murderer from his past comes back, his unexplained ability sends him back to when he was in elementary school and he tries to prevent the murder of his classmates.
It’s a well-directed thriller with all kinds of suspenseful twists and turns. It kinda fails as a mystery but is engrossing nonetheless, especially for those new to anime. In fact, I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch for those who are new to anime.
All of the above-listed shows and films are available through HBO Max and Crunchyroll.
What do you think of my list? Is there anything you would have recommended instead? Leave a comment below and while you’re at it, tell me what your favorite anime from HBO Max’s selection is.
If you like my blog, consider becoming a patron!
Thank you so much for reading and as always, I’ll see you next week!