Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is unlike anything else on television. On the surface, the story is an odd-couple road trip narrative about a young ex-con and a seasoned con man on a mysterious journey. But underneath it uses magical surrealism, unconventional structure, and seemingly disparate genre mashups to meditate on what it means to be American and how to evolve with the times while staying true to a heritage or belief system.
It isn’t like anything else on live-action television, sure, but this kind of material and willingness to get weird and experiment is par for the course in anime. If you’re new to the medium, here are four to get started with that appeal for anyone who digs American Gods.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist is an anime classic. To date, it has two anime series, two anime films, and a live-action film impending on December 1. It’s an alternate history set in the fictional country of Amestris, in a world where alchemy is the most practiced science. Like American Gods, it’s simultaneously sprawling and high-concept, but it’s also intimate and human, as its main characters are two brothers who navigate this confusing world. It’s the perfect anime to dip your toes into.
RWBY is an ongoing anime show with four seasons to date and a fifth in the works. It also has a spin-off series called RWBY Chibi and a video game called Grimm Eclipse. It’s set in a world called Remnant, populated by fantastical and dangerous creatures known as the “Creatures of Grimm.” It’s a place where American Gods characters like the Jinn or Mad Sweeney the leprechaun would feel right at home. The main characters in RWBY are Huntresses who train to battle these creatures.
3. Angel Beats!
Angel Beats! is a thirteen-episode TV series set in the afterlife. If the afterlife sequences of American Gods interest you — or if you dug Laura’s episode — than this is the anime for you. The main character Otonashi loses his memories after his death, and over the course of the show he enrolls in afterlife school and becomes involved in battles.
Death Note is a wildly popular anime with a staggering body of work. It has a manga series, a 37-episode show, four films, various video games, and a miniseries called Death Note: New Generation. If that isn’t enough, an American film is coming out in August 2017. The story centers around a young sociopath who experiments with playing God after he discovers a notebook that enables him to condemn someone to death by writing their name in it. If the American Gods characters you’re most interested in are Anubis and Mr. Ibis, this is the anime for you.
The world of anime is rich and strange and sprawling, with experimental storylines. The first season of American Gods might be winding down, but tide yourself over with a romp through a strange anime realm.
American Gods Season 1 is currently airing Sunday nights on Starz.