6 Must-See Anime for Marvel Fans

Eli Johnson
TV Marvel
TV Marvel Anime

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated movies and television and broken box office records. They’re credited with putting superhero films into mainstream pop culture. What many viewers may not realize is that there are many anime with similar themes and content. That said, here are six that anime that you can binge while awaiting the next Marvel blockbuster.

Naruto

Naruto's Rasengan faces off against Sasuke's Chidori.
Naruto and his best friend/rival Sasuke trade blows in their final fight.

Naruto is one of the most popular anime in the West, among titles such as Dragon Ball and Death Note. Like Steve Rogers, Naruto Uzumaki holds tight to his values of never giving up and believing in yourself. His dream is to become the Hokage, one recognized by all as the greatest ninja in the village. The shows many themes include the importance of hard work, teamwork, and community.

Naruto is full of action-packed sequences, heartwarming personal stories, and the perfect amount of humor á la MCU style. It teaches that revenge is an empty and lonely path and that true power lies in love and friendship. Naruto and its spinoff Naruto Shippūden show that with hard work, sacrifice, and effort, anything is possible.

Death Note

Light Yagami looks over at L.
Light and L are both incredibly intelligent.

The Marvel Netflix series choose to explore more character-driven stories with darker themes. Shows like Jessica Jones tell dark stories and deliver plot twists at every corner. Fans who enjoy its gritty antihero might also enjoy Death Note, a show that features a figurative chess game between bored high school student Light Yagami and the other main characters.

Death Note demands that you become invested in the chess game. Like Jessica, Light is smart and cunning, constantly outsmarting his opposition. The struggle between Light and the show’s primary antagonist mirrors Jessica’s fight against Kilgrave. Both protagonists are stuck in the chess game, making strategic moves to outwit the competition.

Cowboy Bebop

Spike smoking a cigarette.
Spike takes a long drag.

Guardians of the Galaxy was an unforeseen success. Few predicted that a movie about a talking tree, two aliens, a raccoon with an attitude, and a guy with a ’70s music obsession would become such a hit. The adventures of Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, space bounty hunters, may find a place in the hearts of Guardians fans. From its slick jazz soundtrack to the well-choreographed fights, Cowboy Bebop‘s motley crew are sure to bring laughter and enjoyment.

Cowboy Bebop debuted in 1998 and found a huge following, both domestically and internationally. It’s an almost universally beloved anime that introduced many Western fans to anime as a medium for unique storytelling. The stylish format, exemplary voice acting, and outright cool tone make for a great story with many action-packed episodes. For fans of Peter Quill, look no further than Spike Spiegel for your next space cowboy adventure.

My Hero Academia

Midoriya uses his quirk One for All for the first time.
Midoriya uses One for All.

What if superpowers were genetic? The X-Men films explore this possibility and the politics of mutants living among us. My Hero Academia is a show about Izuku “Deku” Midoriya, a boy born without a Quirk in a world where 80 percent of the population has them. Deku dreams of becoming a hero and will stop at nothing to achieve his dream.

Like X-Men, My Hero Academia takes us into a world of powered individuals changing the way we live our lives. Even though most people have Quirks, not all choose to become heroes. My Hero Academia is about what it takes and what it means to be a true hero. Deku’s journey is inspiring as he learns to be his own hero instead of trying to become his idol and mentor All-Might.

Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai prepares to draw his blade.
Afro readies his blade.

Afro Samurai is a classic revenge story, fit for fans of The Punisher. Afro’s father was murdered in front of his eyes for the title of Number One. He spends his life training and murdering both friend and foe to obtain the Number Two Headband, which he needs to challenge his father’s killer. Afro Samurai is a bloody tale of vengeance, perfect for people who enjoy the rage-filled rampages of Frank Castle. Plus, Afro is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, who portrays Nick Fury.

It also may appeal to fans of Luke Cage for very different reasons. The score features hip-hop influences that connect black culture with feudal Japan. The show relies on hip-hop beats instead of traditional Japanese instrumentals as backdrops for its artful fight scenes. Rapper RZA features on the soundtrack and provides the musical talents needed to tie the show together.

Devilman Crybaby

Akira and his best friend Ryo fight.
Akira and Ryo butt heads over the fate of Miki.

Some Marvel fans enjoy all things mystical, weird, and occult such as Doctor Strange. For those people, Devilman Crybaby is a good fit. It’s a Netflix original with a beautiful and distinct animation style, a compelling narrative, and a taste for the weird and extraordinary. Colorful visuals complement a mythological backdrop full of interesting characters.

Devilman Crybaby delves into deep themes of sin, violence, and humanity. What may entice fans of Doctor Strange are not the human characters, but the demons. The main character Akira Fudo is a devilman: a hybrid with the body of a demon, but the heart of a human, which allows him to control his devilish impulses. Devilman Crybaby is a tale about what it truly means to be human and shines a light on the pure of heart.

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