Inspired by stellastar42’s “Junji Ito Collection” articles, I want to introduce people to three enjoyable anime series that tackle the “super hero/powers” genre, each with their own unique takes and well worth watching if you’re new to watching anime and looking for a good place to start. I also wanted to drop a few other thoughts on a couple of other shows and see what people think, particularly if I have gone insane after trying to watch “A.I.C.O Incarnation”, which was released on Netflix yesterday. (More on that later.)

Hunter X Hunter has some amazing fight sequences. This is just the tip of the iceberg before things get super crazy.
GIF: Inverse

As a fan of American (and U.K.) superhero comic books, movies, and television shows, have you ever wondered what another country’s and culture’s take is on superheroes (say, perhaps Japan’s)?

You’re in luck. There are three solid anime series that I can recommend for you.

The main characater, Izuku Midoriya, having a regular day at a school for Heroic Education 101
GIF: Giphy (Giphy)

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The first is a series called “Superhero Academia” is exactly what it sounds like: a school system for students with super powers. What kind of shenanagins and tomfoolery will those precocious kids pursue? Again, I really don’t want to spoil anything beyond that and how and why super powers exist in this universe in the first place. I will say that the take is fascinating. After being inured by the Marvel and DC universes throughout my whole life (as I was not born before the 1930’s), it is cool to see the deconstruction of the super hero trope through the lens of a Japanese creator’s manga adapted into an anime series. It is aimed a younger demographic and while occassionally dark, it’s mostly acceptable for younger viewers, much like Marvel’s comics. In fact, it reminds me of the Marvel Universe, and for good reason. It’s not my favorite series, but it was good fun and I’ll certainly watch the next season. I don’t think there’s much of a “rewatchability” element to the show due to its nature. (The first two seasons are streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll.)

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Just a little taste of one of the unique powers that we get to see early on into the show before it starts getting crazy. I won’t put up any of the really cool ones because you deserve to see the dramatic progression that occurs in order for the characters to develop the insanely cool and creative techniques.
GIF: Fandom

Another ingenious take on super powered humans is the fantastic “on my top ten list” series “Hunter X Hunter”. Without giving much away, I’ll simply say that the series (and the manga) does a fantastic job world-building, creating an absolutely massive ensemble cast filled with unique characters, and that the way the humans get their super powers is not “bitten by a radioactive spider” or “orphaned alien from a doomed planet”, where people are born with abilities or receive them somehow by choice or by force. The “where, why, and how” of the existence of super abilities for the each of the individual characters in this show is truly a fascinating concept. Also, like with any great science fiction style of storytelling, the internal logic and rules of consistency create a fascinating, suspenseful and spell-binding edge-of-your seat excitement whenever a battle occurs. Don’t be fooled by the apparently idyllic nature of the first couple of episodes. They give off this vibe that immediately reminded me of the Zelda video game series, that if there were a Zelda anime, it would look a lot like where Link would live and what he and the other villagers would do on a beautiful island. Just keep watching. Trust me on this one. It’s only the beginning of a grand adventure, and it gets crazy very quickly and quite dark at times after Gon’s “call to adventure”. (You can catch the first 2 seasons,79 episodes, of “Hunter X Hunter” on Hulu, and you can see the series in its entirety on Crunchyroll. Also, Adult Swim airs dubbed episodes every Saturday night at 1:30 am.)

Saitama demonstrated why he’s called “One Punch Man” fighting an absurd super villain by using his absurd power, which is a cheeky “meta” commentary on how overpowered super heroes are in so many mainstream super hero stories.
GIF: Araragi Koyomi (La feria del GIF #1 •One Punch Man•)

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If you are just plain “over it” with the whole superhero thing, if you have superhero fatigue, or if you just aren’t digging the Marvel movies out there, and I know you’re out there (because, hey, it’s okay to admit that something isn’t your cup of tea and just because they’re popular with a lot of people, your opinion and taste is equally as important and valid as theirs), then there’s a short 12 episode series called “One Punch Man” that is right up your alley. By taking the insane tropes we all know and love (or know and love to hate), this series packs them all into an absolutely hilarious satirical send-up of super hero comic books and movies. It’s a wickedly tongue-in-cheek take on pretty much any and every given element you can find in pretty much every mainstream comic book universe boiled down into 12 episodes. I dare you to keep a straight face the first time you hear Genos attempt to tell his origin story to Saitama (the eponymous “One Punch Man” himself) or when Saitama finally reveals how he got his “one punch” powers. (You can stream “One Punch Man” on Netflix.)


“Fate/Zero” is pretty good. It also, in its own way, tackles its own take on super heroes and super powers. I won’t say anything more for fear of spoiling the series and the other “Fate” series if anyone is interested in viewing it. I personally like the concept and enjoy the combination of the somewhat heady existential conversations interspersed with pretty amazing fight sequences. If that sounds up your alley, give it a shot! I can’t really put it in the same category as the other three shows, though. (It’s on Netflix if you want to check it out.)

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*Incredibly minor spoiler in the next paragraph, so skip it if you want to go into the show with zero (heh) preconceptions.*

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The concept is pretty enjoyable too, but it gets a bit tired once you watch the other “Fate” series and shows its conceptual shallowness due to a certain aspect of formulaic repetition. I can see why it is popular, and I understand the nature of the various series being video game and light novel adaptations, but I don’t think I’ll watch any of the other series or movies in the future because it’s just way too much of the same, and having seen “Fate/Zero”, “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works” and now finishing up the second season of “Fate/Apocrypha”, I’ve lost interest in the recycling of material. And the whole “which servant is this one” game while fun at first has gotten a little bit too old to be enjoyable.

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*Incredibly minor spoilers done. Congratulations for surving that harrowing series of TWENTY ellipses! In a row! You’re safe now! Relax and take your prize. Know the pride that comes with evading the danger completely intact.

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So, I thought it would be good to watch the first episode of A.I.C.O last night before bed, and I was wrong. I thought I must have accidentally consumed crystal meth or something because everything was moving insanely fast. In the first scene there was a group of people zooming around like speedsters, all dressed like Power Rangers (a.k.a. Super Sentai in Japan).

Here we see the orange and purple Power Rangers, uh, I mean thieves meet up with the green and yellow Power Rangers. Damn! I meant thieves. They are definitely just thieves and not Power Rangers or Super Sentai. Zooming around at high speeds that actually gave me some motion sickness because every character in this episode zooms, runs, or wheels around as if in this universe there is no middle step (commonly known as “walking”) between standing and running.
GIF: Chick Counterfly (Netflix Trailer)

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They were saying words, lots and lots of words, but even though I knew all of the words and their definitions, when I heard them put together they made no sense at all. For one thing, these words were spoken really fast, like at a 2.1x speed as compared to other anime or any human beings in real life or in pretty much every other television show in existence. I even rewound it, put on the closed captions to read it. Nope. Nonsense. So I switched the audio from English to Japanese, and still I thought I had completely lost my fucking mind and my faculties to percieve reality. All I could pick up was that it was a heist scene and that there was a monster thing that absorbed or ate some of them, but it seemed like no one really cared that their color-coded, outfit-matching friends got devoured. And then there was more zooming around and characters speaking words as if they were sentences that made sense, but they weren’t. Had I finally broken? Did my brain break?

The jarring cut to another scene involved a schoolgirl in a wheelchair and another schoolgirl rushing to class, but they were moving at 35 mph or faster.

This is only one of two times in the episode that this wheelchair bound student has a high speed wheelchair accident (because it only has two speeds, stationary and NASCAR/. The other high speed accident threw her from the chair by 10 or 15 feet at least, as if her chair was a bucking bronco. Is this supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to be tragic? Why does this exist? What is the message here? NETFLIX, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?
GIF: Chick Counterfly (Netflix Trailer)

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The voice acting and dialogue got no better. In fact, it sounded not only like they were speaking faster than humanly possible, and speaking nonsense, but that the English version of the dialogue was not even recorded by humans but by decade-old text-to-voice software. It was completely stilted and the emotions that the voices conveyed seemed like the voice actors were just handing pieces of papers with words on them, given no direction, and the actors just read the words out loud with absolutely no contect or understanding of why they were speaking these words.

Then a bunch of stuff that didn’t make sense happened. The only thing that stands out is that the young girl in the wheelchair was confronted by some... people (?) with some sort of... background (?) who told here that she was in a situation involving “artificial organisms.”

Her response? “Artifish... Articificial Org, Org -an izz-emms?” She was shocked, I guess? Maybe? Also she had clearly never heard of or said the word “organisms” at any point in her life considering how valiantly she struggled with the word?

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Then they said: “Yes, artificial organisms.”

Her response, saw flawlessly: “Yes, I know all about artifical organisms. My father invented them.”

Are you Netflix? Because it sure as hell seems like it.

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I threw my hands up in the air. I hadn’t gone insane. Netflix had gone insane and made the worst, most ridiculous first episode of an anime that I have ever seen. If there is an explanation for why this show is like this, if it is not just a completely broken show at every single level, that it really is good and I’m simply not “getting it”, or if it’s Netflix hard-core trolling its anime viewers, please let me know. I questioned my sanity for a good half hour there.


After subjecting you to those “A.I.C.O. Incarnation” clips, especially the wheelchair related one, as I myself use a wheelchair, I feel the responsibility to add another one of the greatest “hits” from “One Punch Man” as a palate cleanser. I know that I need it.
GIF: Araragi Koyomi (Amino Apps)

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Well, that’s it for now. I think I’m going to catch an episode of something, maybe the next episode of “Jessica Jones” or “Fate/Apocrypha”. Really just anything that’s not “A.I.C.O Incarnation” because I am becoming more and more convinced that it’s either a cruel joke Netflix is making or a deviant conspiracy to drive people stark raving mad.


Edited in order to fix broken and several missing gifs (including captions, sources, attributions, and links caused by Kinja gremlins that promised me it was “Saving...”. Kinja got me again. You win this round, Kinja. I’ll let you keep those delicious, delicious gifs. Next time, Kinja, I won’t be so nice.