The Best Three Anime on HBO Max

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.

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Bungo Stray Dogs: A Novel Portrait of Good & Evil

How does one sanction evil?

The end goal of any traditional story of good versus evil is to battle to a point at which good has triumphed and evil has been defeated. The setting returns to or discovers a comparably peaceful status. From there, it can be assumed that peace will persist for as long as it can after the curtain has closed.

But what happens when a story paints that perpetual conflict between good and evil not as a disturbance or ongoing plague, but as the goal? Furthermore, what if a story progressively affirms it to be preferable to another, worse turn of events. While it may not be clear at first, Bungo Stray Dogs is the very thesis of this notion.

On the surface, this show is about the conflict between the simply named Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia, set in modern-day Yokohama, Japan. Every main character is named after and based on a popular author or poet, each possessing supernatural abilities based on their works.

Beyond the first season, the story evolves slowly into something far grander in such a way you might not notice it. It’s the kind of stylish show that could be unfairly criticized as lacking, narratively. My purpose in writing this is to parse the purpose of a story that I consider to be the very essence of character-driven storytelling.

[Spoilers for Bungo Stray Dogs Seasons 1-3 Ahead]

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My Top Five Anime of 2019

Last week I raved about the best film of 2019, Penguin Highway. Initially, I wanted to get a head start on a new multi-part series of reviews but things take time. January tends to be a time to reflect on the previous year anyhow so why not keep the ball rolling. I watched more shows this year than I have in a while and there are still more which I missed, but for now, here are my top five TV anime of 2019.

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“To The Stray Dogs” – A Bungo Stray Dogs Retrospective

Recently I enthusiastically wrote about Bungo Stray Dogs as it was in the middle of its third season. In the middle of writing it, I remembered that somehow I had avoided reviewing any of the series prior. In that same post, I also realized I have a lot of positive things to say as it turns out. Three seasons and a movie may seem like a tall order for one review, but I’m nothing if not a man of (too) many words.

For a series that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to my friends, the first season of Bungo has a few more problems upon second glance. This happens a lot with good shows I feel. There is a first season that catches your attention with some elusive quality you can’t quite put your finger on. Next up, the sequels build on the formula, turning the show into something even grander than you first envisioned.

The real tricky part is getting people into it without over-hyping it purely on the grounds of how good it gets later on. I’m sure if I kept watching Breaking Bad season four I would love it, but I don’t wanna watch Skylar try to buy a God damn car wash for half a season. Where was I? Oh yeah, allow me to start by giving you an honest look at this show’s humble beginnings.

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