6 episodic anime series you must try out!

Left to right: Master Keaton (1998-9), Human Crossing (2003), Hataraki Man (2004), Gallery Fake (2005), Bartender (2006), Ristorante Paradiso (2009)

Left to right: Master Keaton (1998-9), Human Crossing (2003), Hataraki Man (2004), Gallery Fake (2005), Bartender (2006), Ristorante Paradiso (2009)

You come back from work tired and you want to relax. Perhaps an anime series that takes it slowly, has a nice soundtrack, interesting main character but which you can ‘drop’ and pick up again whenever you want. ARIA and the latest moe slice-of-life anime boom (K-On, Natsuiro Kiseki, Tamayura, Hidamari Sketch) has popularized episodic series and catter to these specific needs. Along with the more obscure Mushishi and Kino’s Journeys (which are masterpieces and if you haven’t watched them yet, go do it right now), these 6 series above are a fine way of enjoying yourself in small bits! Especially if you search for adults in your anime. 

Episodes: 39 - Based on manga created by Hokusei Katsushika and Urasawa Naoki.

Episodes: 39 – Based on manga created by Hokusei Katsushika and Urasawa Naoki.

Taichi Keaton is a man of many talents: father, historian, frequent traveler, negotiator, archaeologist, former survival instructor, and all while working as an insurance investigator for Lloyd’s of London. While his methods may seem a bit unorthodox, he gets the job done when needed, but not without a little something to learn or teach in the process. Through all of his adventures, some people call him a quack. Those who know him well call him a master of life… – ANN

Master Keaton is a combination of Indiana Jones with MacGyver and this alone boosts the series. He is a very clever man who has had a special army training and thus his surviving skills are exceptional. Although he is quite extra-ordinary in this aspect, he is very modest and bears himself in a simple way. Taichi Hiiraga-Keaton is also a dreamer; as mentioned above, he has a passion for history, and aspires to be able to research more about the roots of an ancient European civilization in the Danube river basin.

On the one hand, he appears successful and nearly perfect, on the other hand we learn that he was unable to keep his family together. He is divorced and has a daughter who once in awhile comes to visit her busy father. In other words, the series has it’s slice-of-life moments, which give the protagonist more depth and the audience a break from the almost non-stop adventures.

This is a solid series with an exotic flavor from all the travels around the world – from Greece to Japan and from Spain to Russia. All episodes are equally worth watching and there’s a great balance between adventure, mystery, edutainment, a small dose of drama and peaceful moments.

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Episodes: 13 - Based on manga written by Yajima Masao. Nominated the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1985.

Episodes: 13 – Based on manga written by Yajima Masao. Nominated the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1985.

Though seemingly unconnected, the characters in Human Crossing all have something in common. They are dealing with the sometimes joyous, but often horrific realities of everyday life. Set in modern day Japan, this compilation of short stories explores the lives of people from all walks of life. The animation used here is subtle, with realistic renderings that fully express the range of emotions experienced by the film’s characters. Human Crossing taps into the dramatic potential of reality, focusing on the isolated, sometimes lonely nature of urban life. Ultimately, however, the film suggests that perhaps there is an inter-connectedness between people that binds even the most disparate strangers together. -AniDB

Ningen Kousaten was translated into English as Human Scramble or Human Crossing. The first translation conveys the optimism of going on despite the struggles and despite life being a huge mess. The second translation is a clever pun: crossing can refer to crossroads and intersections or to the sign of the cross and thus to the every day suffering.

The stories include a boxer and his relationship with his mother, a boy who is bullied and an older man who helps him handle the dfficulties he’s going through, a female prisoner who is acting rebellious as the day of her release comes closer, a journalist who was sent at a suburban area to rediscover the meaning of his work and many more. The final story ties all episodes together in an exceptional yet subtle manner that alludes back to the title.

The great plus of this series is its unique content: we don’t get to see often such stories about adults of all ages and occupations or societal problems discussed with honesty and straightforwardness. The only minus is its occasional idealism that might not appeal to everyone. It’s also important to note that I found myself in need of handkerchiefs in some episodes, so what I found touching, someone else might find melodramatic.

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Episodes: 11 - Based on manga written by Anno Moyoko.

Episodes: 11 – Based on manga written by Anno Moyoko.

Hiroko Matsukata is a woman who works for a magazine company. She puts all she has into her work, and is known as a strong, straight-forward working girl, who can at will turn herself into Hataraki man (working man) mode. Despite Hiroko’s success at work, her life lacks romance. Even though a hard worker, she’d leave early anytime to go on a date. Too bad her boyfriend is even bigger a workaholic than Hiroko. – ANN

This summary might mislead you a bit. Hataraki Man is more about different work ethics than a working woman’s romance. There is an episode for almost every co-worker of hers and their attitude towards their work. It’s superficially limited in the world of journalism, but we see people of different positions and specialty, and in two occasions, individuals outside of Matsutaka’s office express their thoughts on their work, too. And of course, these attitudes can be generalized for a large part of the population: from the one who can’t wait to finish his work and is usually slacking off to the perfectionist workaholic, from the ones who display moral integrity in spite of the costs to the ones utilizing any means possible to achieve their job.

The main protagonist is an ambitious woman who puts her job in the center of her life and yet isn’t shown as something to look down on just because she is a woman. Hiroko isn’t a man-hater either; she does have a relationship which is quite dysfunctional, but the blame isn’t solely hers. Hiroko Matsutaka is a very inpirational figure, because she strives to feel fulfilled through her hard work and at the same time remains a woman with feelings and needs. Just because she focuses a lot on writing the next scoop, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t miss some good ol’ sex.

The series is a little diamond. It’s not long nor too short and it’s josei, a demographic that we rarely see in anime and a much needed one in my opinion. Women love anime, too, you know? It’s of the very few times that we get something that we can identify with.

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Episodes: 37 – Based on manga written by Hosono Fujihiko. Nominated the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1996.

On a wharf on Tokyo Bay is a small gallery named Gallery Fake. The owner of the gallery, Reiji Fujita was once a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He was a learned curator with remarkable memory, keen aesthetic sense, great skill in restoration of paintings and knowledge of many languages, so he was called the “Professor.” However, because of trouble in the workplace, Fujita was forced to quit the museum. Now he is an art dealer who sells paintings, authentic and fake alike, at extraordinary prices. – Wikipedia

‘Diamond in the rough’ would be a good description for Gallery Fake. The manga is 32 volumes long and by the time the anime started airing it must have finished its run. Which means that there was a lot of material, many good chapters to choose from for adaptation. But they didn’t act wisely. They not only adapted some very lousy stories that contained ridiculous supernatural elements, like mediums and ancient magic combined with a dinosaur cult, but also made the series too long -which ended up being tiresome to watch.

You might wonder then, why this series is on the list of ‘must-try’, if I complain so much about it. I believe that if you skip episodes 9, 11, 16, 17, 18, 21, 36, you’ll be fine and the series will still be enjoyable. A person who loves arts will dig in with pleasure. The show does have a unique theme and a wide range of artifacts to talk about beyond paintings, like   photos, watches, music boxes, urns and sculptures. Besides that the OST is really good and some stories are both educational and touching.

If you want to taste the best as well as not spend much time on the series, I recommend the following episodes: 2. The Damaged Sunflowers, 3. The 13th Courier, 12. Ophelia who is Alive (possibly the only Sara -his assistant- episode I liked a lot), 13. Michelangelo in Prison, 14. Pass Through the Passage, 20. Star of Sansui, 25. Rain Shelter, 28. A Self-Portrait With no Face, 29. A Long-Ago Blown Flower, 31. Isolated Blue, 37. One Night at the Metropolitan.

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Episodes: 11 - Based on manga created by Joh Araki and Nagatomo Kenji.

Episodes: 11 – Based on manga created by Joh Araki and Nagatomo Kenji.

Genius bartender, Ryu Sasakura makes the most incredible cocktails anyone has ever tasted. Seeking his “Glass of God”, individuals from all different walks of life visit his bar. With both a compassionate ear and a godly drink, Ryu helps people with their problems. – ANN

I have a (healthy- mind you) fascination with spirits; their colors, their taste, the glasses in which they’re served. If you are like me, you’ll be mesmerized; if you never gave it much thought, you’ll be enchanted. Bartender is on the one hand very educational -you get the recipes for coctails at the end of each episode-, on the other hand it is truly relaxing- the jazz ost is outstanding.

Ryu Sasakura is a hot specimen and a gentle soul that dares to be straightforward when needed. He is observant which helps him service his customers better and offer a solution to their troubles and problems. The way he shakes the drinks is elegant and sexy, the stories he narrates about them in his smooth and warm voice are more than interesting. So, he really is one of the reasons you watch the series along with the general atmosphere in that neat and cozy bar.

There is a j-drama adaptation, too. It’s more shounen though, since it puts more emphasis on the competition than the personal stories of the customers. You get a totally different feeling compared to the manga and the anime. The original material is good, but the anime really shines in its polished character and background design and the brilliant music; plus it’s shorter (the manga is 21 volumes long and the scanlations are ongoing). It has all the right ingredients for a wonderful fantasy.

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Episodes: 11- Based on manga written by Ono Natsume.

Episodes: 11- Based on manga written by Ono Natsume.

When Nicoletta was a little girl, her mother, Olga, abandoned her and ran off to Rome to remarry. Now, 15 years later and a young woman, she travels to Rome with the intention of ruining her mother’s life. She tracks Olga down to a restaurant called Casetta dell’Orso, but the second Nicoletta steps through its door, everything changes. It’s a peculiar place staffed entirely by mature gentlemen wearing spectacles, and like their clientele, she is helpless against their wise smiles and warm voices. Before Nicoletta realizes it, her plans for vengeance start to fade, and she’s swept up in the sweet romance of everyday Italian life. – Right Stuf

Although the dishes might be quite the tease and eye-catching, they don’t take the spot quite like the cocktails in Bartender. The restaurant, the food and drinks in Ristorante Paradiso are only there to create atmosphere and and set the background to stories of the heart, be it romantic love, reciprocal or unrequited, relationships slightly broken and relationships amended.

Some perverted minds might pass this as a reverse harem full of ojii-sans- which isn’t the case. The series actually tells the story of the restaurant and the past of its staff, of Nicoletta’s relationship with her mother and of her growing up. Along the way, we meet some friends and customers related to the main cast, who face difficulties. The drama though is never overflowing. On the contrary, even some dark memories of particular characters are not blown out of proportion without being taken lightly either.

There’s a distinct tranquility and happy notes here and there. It’s easy-going and refreshing. The music makes you cheerful, and along with the watercolored 3D backgrounds of Rome, they give a charming Italian aroma. It’s a serene series which one must cherish like a chilled good wine.

7 thoughts on “6 episodic anime series you must try out!

  1. Thank you my Lady for these suggestions. Even though we’re about to leave this slow season for a more active one.

    • My pleasure and I’m happy you liked the post :)
      If the next season is more active depends on your tastes. I know I’ll try Aku no Hana and the other one with the giants. Karneval and the adaptation of Watase Yuu’s manga might be included on the list. And well, I always try watching something from older anime, while trying to balance the atmosphere from the ongoing. So, if next seasοn has a focus on dark themes and action, something more relaxing and fuzzy is needed.

  2. “an anime series that takes it slowly, has a nice soundtrack, interesting main character but which you can ‘drop’ and pick up again whenever you want.”

    bebop where
    natsume where
    champloo where
    GitS where
    trigun where
    :(

    • oooooooh I’m so immensely happy to see you back here :D I undug the least known. Almost everyone knows bebop, champloo, GitS and natsume. Aaaaaaand bebop and champloo will be on another kind of list some time in the future ;) As for GitS and trigun I’ve yet to watch them. Plus I don’t really think they are tranquil enough for this list; quite heavy on philosophy and action, don’t you think?

    • GitS and Trigun(I’m basing myself one the manga, I don’t remember too much of the anime) also are -except for some specific episodes- story heavy. You can’t really pick them up anytime.

    • No need to resort to violence, my friend! You could just come up close and say “I’ve got a surprise for ya~”. Joking aside, I understand that these series aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. A try doesn’t hurt though.

Take your pen and write your story, co-traveler~

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