Anime to Watch on Funimation Before They Disappear from Streaming

Funimation‘s days as an anime streaming service are numbered! And while much of their catalog is available on Crunchyroll or other anime streaming sites, a surprising number are not. With April 2 looming, here are our editorial team’s picks for the anime you need to watch on Funimation before they become relegated to VOD only or disappear from streaming entirely in the United States.


Tenchi Universe


Before 100 Girlfriends, before Rent-A-Girlfriend, before High School DxD, and before Love Hina, there was Tenchi Muyo! Like many other 90s kids, I was introduced to anime by the titles aired on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Amongst the various action shows, there was a quirky little space series that awakened something in me called Tenchi Muyo! which was a series of OVA episodes that told the story of a young highschooler whose life would never be quiet again after he met various attractive women from outer space and who have feelings for him in one way or another. The episodes were cheesy, and over-the-top, and may not aged the best after almost 30 years but they will always have a special place in my heart.

Tenchi Universe is a full, twenty-six-episode series that acts as a more expanded retelling of the original OVAs. You can think of it as a reboot that loosely references other aspects of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise which is…complicated. Re-watching a couple of episodes on Funimation‘s website before the service went down made me wish that there were more legally available places to watch this franchise since I think it is a piece of anime history. The show’s sense of comedic timing is still strong with incredibly goofy expressions, quick scene cuts, and a surprisingly strong emphasis on silence. While it is a harem series, our main character Tenchi never really felt like a self-insert character. He just feels like an average guy thrown into a situation he did not ask for and trying to make the best of it. He complains and gets angry but he also has a kind heart and doesn’t seem to hold any ill will towards anybody. It’s also fun when your harem series protagonist is the one who’s the straight man to everyone else’s lunacy.

The cast comprises princesses, convicted space pirates, and new additions to the franchise like the space police who would eventually get a spinoff. I love that most of them are older women with distinct drives that tie into the larger lore of the series. You could write a whole breakdown of how weirdly connected and yet unrelated a lot of the different franchise installments are. I think Tenchi Universe stands out because it feels like what the original series was supposed to be. The original OVAs feel like a first draft but this series makes the world feel bigger, it’s a bit stronger with the comedy, the voice actors in both the dub and sub sound more comfortable in their roles and the stakes by the end get surprisingly epic. If you’re like me and are always down for a dose of nostalgia, or if you want to go back and watch something that may or may not have helped set the standard for other shows to follow, then I think you should check out Tenchi Universe before it leaves Funimation.

Caitlin Moore

The Vision of Escaflowne


There are a lot of great shows that aren’t making the jump to Crunchyroll, but this one especially hurts. The Vision of Escaflowne has been a mainstay for decades, an encapsulation of the aesthetics of ’90s anime in one nearly perfect package. If you were to make a checklist of common anime tropes of the 1990s, Escaflowne would mark off most of the boxes. Coming-of-age isekai! Mecha! Catgirls! Winged bishounen! Supernatural elements! Mysticism! The staff and cast are no less star-studded or intensely of their time: an original concept by Shōji Kawamori, character designs by Nobuteru Yuki, direction by Kazuki Akane, and one of Yoko Kanno‘s first scores. The heroine, Hitomi Kanzaki, is Maaya Sakamoto‘s first major role from when she was just 16, and Tomokazu Seki, Jōji Nakata, and Shinichirō Miki are also there, just getting started in what would come to be legendary careers.

Yet, with all of those elements mashed together, it’s so much more than a tropey mishmash or a copy/paste of elements from other, more original series. The story goes that it was originally slated to have Yasuhiro Imagawa, a director best known for his bombastic, 70’s-style super robot war series, and be directly squarely at a male audience with a focus on action and fan service. When Imagawa left to work on G-Gundam, Akane took over the project and gave it the distinctly shoujo flavor that it’s known for today.

The first episode takes some time to get going. Hitomi Kanzaki is an ordinary 16-year-old girl who runs track, does tarot readings, and has a huge crush on her senpai. Her life changes irrevocably when, in the middle of a run, a young man fighting a dragon appears on the track. She ends up whisked away with the boy, named Van Fanel, to his home on the planet Gaia, where the Earth hangs in the night sky and is known as the “Mystic Moon.” Her tarot readings, always uncannily accurate, have become fully prophetic, and she begins to have visions of the future. When the Zaibach Empire attacks Van’s kingdom Fanelia, Van must pilot the giant robot Escaflowne to defend his people.

The setup may sound tried and true, but please trust me – there’s nothing I can say here that will prepare the uninitiated for some of the story’s wildest twists and turns. Instead, I can only recommend it as, for all that, it’s representative of its time, something that feels vanishingly rare in anime productions these days: an isekai series aimed at a female audience that puts its investment in developing the characters and their relationships, in a world that feels alive instead of using established tropes as shortcuts. Plus, the remastered cell animation is stunning.

Runner up: Outlaw Star

Outlaw Star, on the other hand, is nothing but a schlocky good time. Alongside Cowboy Bebop and Trigun, it forms a kind of triad of space western TV anime that came out alongside one another and is the only one not to have gotten any modern reimagining. Well, unless you count Firefly, and please don’t comment reminding me how long ago Firefly was; it doesn’t matter, because we have Outlaw Star, and that’s better. The hero, Gene Starwind, is a bounty hunter who has feared space since his father’s ship was shot down when he was just a teenager. He has no choice but to overcome that fear when he and his sidekick, the boy genius Jim Hawking, end up with a highly advanced grappler ship navigated by a lovely bio-android named Melfina. The goal: reach the Galactic Leyline, and help Melfina find her sense of purpose along the way. That’s going to be hard when they’re being pursued by pirates, other bounty hunters… and bill collectors. There are parts of Outlaw Star that haven’t aged well – gay stereotype Fred Luo is a walking cringe-fest, and the animation is inconsistent at best – but it’s just fun.

Kevin Cormack

Eureka Seven


In the mid-2000s, I was obsessed with Studio Bones’ 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA). Hungry for more of the same, I tried Bones’ next lengthy, high-quality animated opus – 2005’s Eureka Seven (E7). I found exactly what I was looking for.

Whereas FMA is a wild fantasy manga adaptation set in an alternate 1900s Europe, E7 is a futuristic mecha anime-original production with a strong romance aspect underpinning its main character relationships. While FMA focuses on the enduring love between brothers, E7 follows the trials and tribulations of its central teenage couple Eureka and Renton, while also making room for two secondary couples: the jaded adults Talho and Holland; and the troubled Anemone with her long-suffering admirer Dominic.

For a time, E7 was super-popular, but recently its star has dimmed due to a slurry of increasingly poor sequels. 2009’s movie A Pocketful of Rainbows was an alternate-universe-set muddle cobbled together from recycled and repurposed TV footage, while the less said about the follow-up series Astral Ocean the better. The more recent Hi-Evolution trilogy movies are an exercise in pointlessness. I don’t understand why Bones keeps returning to ruin what was an almost flawless series.

Considered alone, the fantastic fifty original episodes of E7 depict two years in the life of protagonist Renton Thurston (named for a character from the movie Trainspotting, and the band Sonic Youth’s guitarist). Renton is a typical anime teenager – bored with his mundane life, pining for adventure. When female lead Eureka crashes into his life with her shiny mecha robot (the Nirvash Type Zero, named for the band Nirvana, and designed by the legendary Shōji Kawamori), he seizes the opportunity to live his dreams, joining her and his heroes – a band of counter-culture outlaws called Gekko state – aboard their flying ship. Renton soon learns the truth behind the adage “never meet your heroes”, as he struggles to find his place among them and frequently clashes with their mercurial leader, Holland.

Renton and Eureka’s relationship never runs smoothly – partly because Renton himself is immature and unable to see things from others’ perspectives. He learns many painful lessons and one of E7‘s biggest strengths is in how every major character grows and matures throughout the series. Far from being a mere cipher for Renton to project his fantasies onto, Eureka herself is a complex character with deep trauma and horrifying secrets. Her appearance (courtesy of character designer Kenichi Yoshida) is instantly iconic and evolves multiple times – sometimes in unexpected ways. Her antagonistic counterpart Anemone is also striking, providing a dangerous dose of pink-haired-anime-girl insanity.

Head writer Dai Sato set out to make an anime referencing the biggest musical and cultural touchstones of his generation, hence every episode is named for famous songs as diverse as Blue Monday, It’s Only a Paper Moon, and Helter Skelter. Fittingly, the soundtrack is superb, especially the incredible first opener Days by Flow.

It’s not only the soundtrack that’s exceptional – E7‘s animation is frequently spectacular, especially some of the incredibly detailed, kinetic action sequences towards the anime’s breathless, intense conclusion. E7‘s world is a weird, alien place: a planet overrun by the growth of the sentient Scub Coral that generates “Trapar Waves” a type of energy that allows the characters to “lift” (sky surf). The imagery of robots surfing giant boards through the sky, trailing bright yellow energy in their wake, will never be not cool.

Eureka Seven is the complete package – a compelling story with wonderful characters in a beautifully detailed and brilliantly animated world, set to a pulsing soundtrack. It’s criminal that a show as formerly popular, and as good as this, could be lost to streaming.

Rebecca Silverman

The Slayers and Slayers Next


There is a very special place in my heart for the first two seasons of The Slayers. In part, that’s because it was, if not precisely my gateway anime, at least the first non-magical girl anime that truly hooked me. After Sailor Moon and, weirdly, fansubs of Wedding Peach, it was a revelation: Lina was unabashedly herself (and herself could be selfish), Gourry was the ultimate himbo long before that was in widespread usage, and everyone I knew was madly in love with Zelgadis. (Feelings about Amelia were…less positive.) The story was equal parts insane and serious, and as someone who spent her teen years devouring Forgotten Realms novels, it felt like the perfect blend of my interests.

But there’s more to it than that. Even if we discount my taste and the fact that my middle sister did an excellent Xellos cosplay, the two series stand on their own. Loosely adapted from the long-running light novels, the plots successfully blend serious sword and sorcery fantasy with parody. Lina Inverse, the self-proclaimed beautiful genius sorceress, has a fearsome reputation and a bad habit of whipping out powerful spells when she perhaps doesn’t need to. She falls in with less-than-brilliant swordsman Gourry Gabriev while out robbing bandits, and he immediately decides that she’s a little girl who needs his protection – and when he figures out that’s not true, he sticks with her anyway, somewhat to her annoyance. Along the way they join up with Zelgadis, a young man cursed with stone skin, and Amelia, a justice-loving princess, and they wander the countryside, eating restaurants out of food and getting into ridiculous troubles.

Both seasons also delve into much more serious territory, particularly when it comes to Rezo the Red Priest, who starts in the first season as a stock villain and morphs into something much more heartbreaking, a trend that holds for both seasons’ runs. (There are more seasons, but they just aren’t quite as good, although they follow the same formula.) Alongside Amelia and Lina inadvertently turning themselves into idol singers and all the guys cross-dressing, we have the truly awful things that happen to Sylphiel’s hometown, tragic villains, and the understanding that Lina is fully aware of just how dark the world can get. She will do what she has to to stop tragedies from repeating themselves. The show balances its two halves remarkably well, presenting them as the way the world is and the way we’d perhaps prefer it to be. Hope is never in short supply, but it can sometimes feel that way, and that the series can get belly laughs one episode and horrified silence the next is one of the markers of how well done it is.

It helps that the Japanese voice cast is amazing. No offense to the dub, but the sub is a 1990s roster of greats, with Megumi Hayashibara, Hikaru Midorikawa, Akira Ishida, and Takehito Koyasu, among others, and all of them do an outstanding job. The music is also impressively catchy, with The Slayers Next opening theme ranking among my all-time favorites. But perhaps most importantly, these two seasons show what we’ve largely lost in fantasy anime – this is just plain old sword and sorcery fantasy, with no game stats, no isekai, and no real gimmicks. With nostalgia goggles on, this looks like the bygone days, although that isn’t entirely fair to say. Regardless, if you like fantasy, you ought to watch (or rewatch) these two before they’re gone from streaming.

Steve Jones

World Conquest Zvezda Plot


Ten years on, I think Zvezda has all but disappeared from the anime-watching public’s consciousness. While that saddens me, it also means I could call it a hidden gem now. A forgotten classic. Doesn’t that make you want to watch it more? If so, you’d better hurry!

Maybe Zvezda‘s lack of broad appeal stems from the difficulty in describing it. The anime focuses on the aspiring little girl supervillain Kate Hoshimiya and her schemes to bring the entire world under her thumb. A plot summary doesn’t do it justice, though. I think it’s more accurately described as an affecting blend of social satire with found family dynamics. The henchmen and henchwomen (and hench robots) who make up Kate’s evil organization are each broken and rejected by society in some way. At its best, it finds pathos in their pasts and hope in their current circumstances. In Zvezda‘s vocabulary, “world domination” isn’t literal so much as it’s an acknowledgment that fixing the world requires far more power than a single normal person has. It requires communing with your fellow weirdos, and possibly building a secret underground lair or two.

World Conquest Zvezda Plot, notably, also produced one of my favorite episodes of anime ever. It’s a 20-minute screed against smoking in public, and it’s hilarious. While that’s the kind of didacticism I’d normally find egregious, lead writer Meteo Hoshizora‘s gonzo vision transmutes it into something transcendent.

Runner-Up: Selector Infected Wixoss / Selector Spread Wixoss

This was THE anime that introduced me to the full extent of Mari Okada‘s writing power. Ostensibly a promotional tool for the trading card game of the same name, WIXOSS takes that premise and sprints head-on into a melodrama about power, fame, Faustian bargains, incest, and identity. In other words, it’s an Okada classic.

At the time, many viewers were quick to dismiss it as yet another Madoka clone, and I’ll grant that the surface similarities are certainly there. The card game promises to fulfill girls’ wishes, yet sure enough, the sinister plots wrought by its players gradually wear down our heroines’ spirits. It’s not a dark magical girl story per se, but it is a dark story about girls who fight each other using cards that contain magic. However, Okada’s thematic concerns have little overlap with Urobuchi’s. While Madoka extends its gaze into cosmological extremities, WIXOSS keeps itself grounded in the quotidian anxieties of its main cast of angsty adolescents. This doesn’t mean WIXOSS is less bombastic, either. Fans of BanG Dream! It’s MyGo!!!!! will find a similarly messy gaggle of girls who find camaraderie through their confrontations. What it lacks in MyGO‘s refinement, WIXOSS makes up with wild swings that keep you on your toes and guffawing in disbelief from episode to episode.

I think these seasons of WIXOSS deserve a recommendation on their own merits, but I’m also highlighting them here because they exemplify the absurdity of this grander licensing garbage pile. Right now, on Crunchyroll, the only WIXOSS* you can stream is the second series’ second half, subtitled Lostorage Conflated. The first cour, Lostorage Incited, is nowhere to be found, and while I haven’t watched it myself (because Lostorage wasn’t penned by Okada), I assume those twelve episodes are pretty integral to whatever goes down in Conflated. How does something like this happen? How are all of the other shows in this article on the brink of disappearing? Anime has never been more available, but at the same time, it’s never been so transparent how little the rights holders value the art they control.

Jairus Taylor

Yuri Kuma Arashi


If there are two things Kunihiko Ikuhara is known for as an anime director, it’s being incredibly obtuse, and shilling lesbians. While Revolutionary Girl Utena remains his most iconic outing in the latter category, Yuri Kuma Arashi represents his most direct attempt at tackling the subject of queer romance. The series takes place in a world where humanity has created a giant wall to defend themselves from the threat of bears who have come from another world and can disguise themselves as human girls. A pair of bears named Ginko and Lulu infiltrate an all-girls academy for Ginko to reunite with a girl named Kureha who she met as a child, but Kureha hates bears and wants revenge on them for taking her “friend” Sumika away from her.

While that premise seems like a mouthful, the actual plot of the show is pretty secondary to what it wants to convey. The concept of “schoolgirl lesbians” is one that’s been used in Japanese society to treat attraction to other girls as just “a phase”, and the show brazenly tackles that perception. Many of the girls within Kureha’s school are pretty deep in the closet, and hiding their desires out of fear of exclusion for not following societal norms. As the show goes along, it becomes increasingly apparent that the threat these girls fear from the bears is less physical, and more in being open with their sexuality, and everything that comes with it. It’s a messy story and one whose obtuse nature and barrage of visual metaphors require multiple viewings, but it’s extremely compelling and serves as a shining example of why Ikuhara has maintained such a strong reputation as a director.

Runner-Up: Yatterman Night

Yatterman, is one of several incarnations of the 80’s Tatsunoko franchise Time Bokan, and every iteration differs slightly, all of them retain the same formula where a pair of masked teenagers regularly thwart the plans of an evil trio of buffoons who are doing villainy as a 9-5 job for a guy in a skull mask. However the villains ended up being more popular than the actual heroes, and the Akudama Trio from Yatterman in particular became so beloved that they inspired many a trio of incompetent bad guys including, but not limited to, Team Rocket from Pokémon. Yatterman Night takes this to its logical conclusion as it asks the question: “What if Team Rocket were the heroes?”

The series takes place in a future where the Yattermen have seemingly defeated the villains once and for all, and the Akudama Trio and their descendants have been banished. One of those descendants, a girl named Leopard, thinks that’s a pretty raw deal, and dons the mantle of the Akudama trio alongside her caretakers Elephantus and Volkatze to put a stop to the Yatterman Kingdom. It’s a fun reversal of roles. Leopard and her two dads make for a pretty fun trio of bumbling underdogs that have all the comedic energy and charm of your favorite loveable bad guys. It also features nods to other Tatsunoko properties including Speed Racer, and while you’ll get more out of this if you know Tatsunoko‘s history, it’s not a requirement. The show is also darker than you’d expect as the Yatterman Kingdom is less than benevolent, and much of the series is about our unlikely heroes trying to find hope where there seemingly isn’t any. This is a pretty niche show to be sure, and not for everyone, but it’s nothing if not charming, and that charm is more than worth the price of admission.

Christopher Farris

Samurai Flamenco


Samurai Flamenco is a series I think everyone should experience at least once. But aging out as it has (it turned ten years old last year!) and being stuck aboard the sinking ship of the Funimation platform has done it no favors as far as interest and accessibility. Theoretically, that could be for the best. Samurai Flamenco is, as you might have heard, one of those stories that’s at its strongest the less you know about it going in. So technically less visibility makes it a better prospect to point some unsuspecting soul at and just say “Go watch it now, trust me.” Of course, with preciously less than a month before its solitary streaming venue shuts down for good, that means there’s a time limit on being able to do that, so: go watch it now, trust me.

To be fair, Samurai Flamenco can be sold with a smidge more context. Some appeal points are more direct than others—if you’re a colossal tokusatsu nerd like me, then this story of male model Masayoshi suiting up to try his hand at spandex superheroing in the real world will be an easy choice. Samurai Flamenco‘s overall love for the transforming heroes that inhabit these special effects series is as genuine as its main characters. What starts as an earnest experimental tribute to the likes of Kamen Rider and Super Sentai eventually shows one of its many hands and henshins into a full-on pastiche of all the most well-known entrants and tropes of the medium. Samurai Flamenco feels like it truly has something to say about every corner of tokusatsu, from the suspended disbelief of the in-universe logic to the purpose in deconstructing such a well-worn institution, to the effective ennui that must accompany producing these popular series on a neverending annual cycle.

Samurai Flamenco as a series has plenty to offer even if you haven’t spent decades up to your multicolored boots in this sort of material. The relationship struck up by dopey but well-meaning fanboy Masayoshi and the more grounded Goto is immediately endearing. It’s fun to watch them bond over Masayoshi’s fandom and the increasingly absurd ways it manifests in their lives. This is complemented by the other cast members that slowly fill out their orbit, including an idol-turned-nard-kicking-magical-girl, and eventually a whole-ass sentai for Masayoshi to lead. And as escalations go, that’s one of the more predictable, pedestrian ones.

Because yes, the main matter of Samurai Flamenco is always going to be the sheer ride that watching it is. I don’t know that I can ever recreate the experience of watching the series in real-time while conversing with others who were doing the same. There’s one episode where once its confounding cliffhanger dropped, I and several others questioned if this had been an actual entry in the show or if we’d just experienced a collective fever dream. You’ll probably know that one when you get to it. Pretty much everyone who’s head of Samurai Flamenco by this point has at least heard about the gorilla. But that can’t distract from how much more there is in the series, and there is indeed so much. This show includes weaponized office supplies. It features power armor propelled by political polling. There are vomit-exchanging lesbian makeout sessions. Truly, there’s something for everyone, and that’s why you owe it to yourself to experience Samurai Flamenco for yourself before it’s gone from Funimation. Do it while you can, because remember, you only have just one life.

Nicholas Dupree

Serial Experiments Lain


Lain was not the first anime I ever watched, nor the first I ever owned on physical media, but it was the first series I ever bought with my own money. I happened upon the entire DVD set at a local used book store, was fascinated by the volume covers, and scrounged together allowance and Christmas money to take the whole thing home. I ran to my room, loaded the disk into my beat-up PS2, hooked up to a TV older than I was, and was immediately hooked. Since then, Lain has been indelibly etched into the walls of my brain; years of thinking about and rewatching it only carving those lines deeper into my gray matter, solidifying it as one of my all-time favorite pieces of fiction in any medium.

It’s hard for me to put into words why it’s left such an impact on me. I can point to the late Ryutaro Nakamura‘s haunting, paranoia-inducing direction that can make something as uneventful as a walk down the street feel like the most terrifying thing you could conceive of. I can note how the series’ esoteric, primordial interpretation of the internet makes it at once of its time, yet timeless in its brain-curdling visions of the information age. I can talk about how the series’ use of early digital effects, and the way it renders Yoshitoshi ABe‘s original character designs, make for some of the most striking imagery in sci-fi animation, persisting despite the technical limitations of its production. I could point you to the world-class opening sequence that has been playing on repeat inside my head for nearly two decades.

Yet that doesn’t fully capture what it’s like to just sit down and experience the show, trying to piece together its tangled, purposefully obscured story, or straining to separate signal from noise when scenes tumble into dream logic that is never explained and rarely acknowledged. There’s a feeling of being adrift in a sea of information and conspiracy so vast that you can’t tell up from down, and constantly feel like you’re being watched, observed, even controlled, by means and for purposes you couldn’t hope to understand. As Lain’s connection with reality frays, shatters, and evolves across her journey into the eldritch bowels of online identity, the audience feels as lost, as formless. A lot of evocative horror media feels like walking into the belly of a beast, but Lain leaves you questioning if there was an end or beginning to the beast in the first place. It’s powerful, arresting horror the likes of which I’ve never seen repeated in anime, and deserves to be preserved.

Runner-up: Aquarion Evol

First and foremost, no, you don’t need to watch the original Genesis of Aquarion series to watch this one. It’s potentially funnier if you do, considering what it does with that show’s lore, but the charming, horny stupidity of EVOL stands firmly on its own feet thanks to its unflinching commitment to The Bit.

Lots of mecha anime have made the joke about getting inside the robot can be innuendo for getting all up in somebody else, but only EVOL has the guts to build its entire world around that concept, resting the fate of multiple universes on the shoulders of the most mixed up, unreliable teens imaginable. There’s an entire episode based around bananas as the most obvious phallic symbolism possible. There’s a character named Andy W. Hole whose driving motivation is exactly what his surname implies. There’s one episode where the characters unlock their robot-piloting potential by harnessing the freedom of stripping naked in the cockpit. On the non-horny side, the teen pilots power up their hearts at one point by being buried alive by their school teachers. There is a series-long metaphor for the nature of both the human soul and the universe at large that revolves around sprinkled donuts. A character splits their soul in two so that both halves can be in a love triangle with a twice-reincarnated angel.

It’s dumb as a sack of hammers, but it knows it and leverages all that brainless energy into a story and cast that end up brimming with charm. While the show is undeniably horny, it never feels demeaning towards its characters, allowing its boys and girls alike to indulge in the bawdy robo-boner humor. For instance, the aforementioned Mr. Hole manages to have probably the best character arc in the entire show, encapsulating the energy of a dog that won’t stop humping the couch leg, yet eventually building a genuinely sweet romance that helps center the millennia-spanning, dimension-hopping story surrounding the main characters. It sounds ridiculous, but there are multiple points where the show about giant robots that make people orgasm when they fight managed to make me cry multiple times. So please, just trust me on this one. I promise that if you can embrace the intentionally immature humor and over-the-top robot action, you’ll inevitably find yourself loving this cast of idiots as much as I do.

Richard Eisenbeis

Code Geass: Akito the Exiled


Set in the missing year between the first and second season of Code;Geass, Akito the Exiled takes us away from the wars in Asia and focuses on the war in Europe instead. It follows a group of Japanese refugee soldiers who are part of a secret military program that aims to use a rocket to drop a mecha strike force behind enemy lines. In feel, it is quite similar to the much more recent 86 EIGHTY-SIX—with its team of jaded minority mecha pilots put under the command of a kind, if naive, young woman.

But what makes Akito the Exiled stand out is how it serves as a mirror to the TV anime. We’re given a main character, Leila, who shares much in common with Lelouch. Both are Brittanian nobility, had one or both of their parents murdered, grew up in hiding under an assumed identity, and were given a Geass by C.C.. However, there is one major difference between the two that makes their life paths diverge massively: Leila is an inherently selfless person.

While Lelouch embarks on a bloody path of revenge—using everything and everyone around him to achieve his goals—Leila truly cares about those around her and wants what’s best for them rather than what’s best for herself. Lelouch betrays those who care for and worship him one after the other. Leila builds strong relationships and always stays true to those she is responsible for. Or to put it another way, Akito the Exiled is built around the question: “What if Lelouch had been a good person?”

Oh, and it’s also got awesome mecha fights and a decent core romance—you know, if that sounds like your thing.

Runner-up: Steins;Gate‘s Sequels and One-offs

While the original Steins;Gate (and its intraquel Steins;Gate 0) are on several streaming services, there are three parts of the story only available on Funimation—and if you’re a fan of Steins;Gate, all three are a must-watch.

  • Steins;Gate OVA – Egoistic Poriomania
  • The first of these, Egoistic Poriomania is an epilogue OVA set a few weeks after the final scene of the original series. For the most part, it is a comedic little story where our heroes travel to Los Angeles and Okabe keeps messing up the trip with his hijinks. However, beneath the comedy is a deep emotional core as Okabe struggles to deal with the fact that the deep relationships he developed over his adventure never happened to anyone else. Meanwhile, Kurisu is plagued by fragmented memories of the other worldlines—and is unsure if she should act on the feelings they stir within her. It all culminates in what is honestly my favorite scene in all of Steins;Gate.

  • Steins;Gate – The Movie – Load Region of Déjà Vu
  • Set a year after the original, Load Region of Déjà Vu is a solid psychological mystery where Kurisu finds herself as the protagonist after Okabe disappears—not only in body but from her memories as well. It’s a deep dive into her character that shows how far she would go to save the person she loves by taking her on an adventure that mirrors Okabe’s own.

  • Steins;Gate 23β – Divide By Zero
  • This is an alternate retelling of Steins;Gate‘s episode 23. While much of the episode is the same as the original version, the end is drastically different as Okabe does not receive the call from his future self that gives him the information needed to reach the Steins;Gate worldline. Thus, his failures leave him a broken, depressed husk in a story that leads directly into the events of Steins;Gate 0.

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