3 New Gen Anime Creating Waves

For some unclear reason, anime can be a tremendously polarizing force. This statement is true in that people often either contentiously hate anime, or adore it; however, this statement is especially true in that popular anime are equally hated as they are loved. 

None so much as the eponymously named New Gen anime. It is a topic of debate what years precisely define the new gen anime, with some pundits saying that it encompasses everything released since 2001, while others create a demarcation in 2016, claiming everything from then till now falls under the Brand New! Gen category. We will most certainly be ignoring that today.

The new gen anime, specifically the Shonen, have captured their target audience quite well. Young adults, male and female, and others have found identity within the fantasy of the Japanese art forms. At every step of the process, from manga – similar to Western comics – to the anime, delivered to our television screens, fans cannot get enough of the intricate stories created by devoted craftsmen.

From the ‘90s, we received some brilliant creations in the anime. The big three of Shonen Jump have cult followings that might scare the regular television viewer. The big three: “One Piece”, “Naruto”, and “Bleach”, although still present in some way or another, have a lot more competition. Take a look below at some of the best new gen anime that might make you a fan of the art form,  if you have never invested time into watching an anime.

1) “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”

“Demon Slayers” four principle characters. Photo provided by Nickie Hayes.

This entrant has long since been setting trends in the world of anime. The story is set in what appears to be feudal Japan and revolves around the main protagonist, Tanjiro Kamado. He joins the ranks of a demon slaying corps in the hopes of eventually achieving his goal of avenging his family, who met their untimely ends at the hands of one of said demons. 

Tanjiro is an archetype of good, and in true anime fashion we are privy to the process of his thoughts, internally debating his morals and the philosophies behind the things in his world. 

Tanjiro is not alone on his quest, he is joined by a cast of colorful characters each with backstories and motives of their own, amongst which are his half-demon sister Nezuko, and his two main accomplices: the debilitatingly shy Zenitsu and the overly boisterous Inosuke. The show feels good, as much as the content can be gruesome or macabre.

As is the case with many other Shonen, “Demon Slayer” is a deeply thought-out plot superset with astounding, traditional Japanese-inspired animation. This makes it stand out from anything else on the market, perhaps even stand above. The first arc was produced as an anime in mid 2018, followed by a 2020 movie, “Mugen Train.” Moving onto the third arc now amid major excitement, “Demon Slayer” has large boots to fill to which it appears they are already well accustomed. The manga has concluded, so watch out for spoilers in your algorithm.

2) “Jujutsu Kaisen”

Promotional material for “Jujutsu Kaisen 0.” Photo provided by Nickie Hayes.

“Jujutsu Kaisen” is fun, like really fun. Set in present-day Japan, this show’s story is that of Yuji Itadori, a not-so-average high school student, who on a somewhat contemplated whim gobbles up a shriveled finger. That finger happens also to one of the “King of Curses,” Sukuna’s 20 indestructible fingers. Surprised when Yuji’s body does not fail from the weight of the curse he consumed, Sukuna decides it will make the perfect vessel for his second coming. With the scene set, Yuji receives an ultimatum from the jujutsu sorcerers – basically the demon slayers of this word. Yes, it’s a trend. Quite simply: die or live to consume the rest of the fingers and then die. Seems bleak, but the show is a riot. As a jujutsu sorcerer, Yuji has teamed up with Panda, a guy who cannot talk and one guy whose preferred type of girl was one just like Jennifer Lawrence.

With a 2020 release, “Jujutsu Kaisen” was the perfect COVID-19 binge watch, for all  24 episodes. The wait since has been grueling for the show’s fans, although a movie, “Jujutsu Kaisen 0,” did benefit Japanese viewers, and subsequently Western viewers as the movie hit cinemas on March 18, 2022. My suggestion is to wait a year and take the show on when at least a couple dozen more episodes have become available to watch. The manga is available to read, but the fights in the anime are worth the wait many times over.

3) “Vinland Saga”

Our final entrant is quite unique as an anime. Although written and produced by Japanese artists, “Vinland Saga” is a Viking’s story, taking pieces of history to embolden the plot. The story follows Thorfinn Karlsefni and his childhood goal of one day reaching Vinland; however, first he must conquer vengeance and anger within himself, spurn by the dishonorable murder of his father. As it would turn out, the entire first season is a prologue to a fantastic journey.

The emotion in “Vinland Saga” is unlike anything I have ever seen animated. By the end of the second episode, I had already bawled my eyes out three times, due to the vivid reality of the struggles of Thorfinn. The show aired on Netflix in 2019, but its popularity only began to flair over the next year. As an entry-point to anime, this fairs quite well as it avoids the majority of anime tropes due to its setting. The second season is set to hit Netflix at the start of 2023, you might not want to miss it.

   Whether you like Vikings, or witty banter, or demon slaying – I am sure you can find some enjoyment in these anime. Central to anime culture, all three of these anime offer something different both visually and in terms of plot. Perhaps this is your way to enter the conversation.

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