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The Three Best Animated Series to Watch on Netflix Now

It’s a golden age for streaming TV. Not only have services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Now uploaded the complete runs of old shows, allowing you to relieve your favorite TV moments, they’ve begun to produce original content that rivals or surpasses anything you’ll find on network TV.

Not only that, but since these shows are often uploaded entire seasons at a time, you can enjoy entire seasons in one sitting, in what has come to be known as binge watching, rather than having to wait an entire week for the next episode.

For geeks and animation fans in particular, these developments have been nothing short of a godsend. The animation industry is booming, with producers, directors, writers, and animators given nearly free reign to do whatever they think is best to create some of the best shows possible. That freedom has led to some outstanding programs that are not only entertaining, but break new ground with what’s possible in an animated TV show. And it’s not just Americans - European and Japanese animators, often finding themselves turned away by their parent country’s TV networks, have found a home on these streaming services.

By far, Netflix has this figured out better than the rest. In the past two years, they’ve added some of the most memorable and popular animations of yesteryear, and started producing some incredible, original properties for their service. I’ve put together a list of the best of these, both new and old, that you can start enjoying right now! The newest titles are sure to become staples of pop culture, that you’ll be talking about for years to come! So get registered in a forum, or start up your own site, and get the conversation started about these instant classics!

Castlevania


Image from Netflix

Based on the classic and best-selling series of video games, and in particular, the 1989 NES title Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, this original animated series is a dark and gruesome tale, interlaced with roll on the floor laughing humor, that stays true to the legendary game series. 

After the legendary vampire lord, Count Vlad Dracula Tepes, falls in love with a human doctor, Lisa, he starts to mend his evil ways, marries her, starts a family, and begins to travel the world, to learn more about the humans he’s shunned up until now. Tragedy strikes after Lisa is accused of being a witch, and burned at the stake by the Church. Dracula flies into a mad rage, vowing to wipe all humans from the face of the Earth. The only ones who can stop Dracula, and the horde of demons and monsters he commands, are Trevor Belmont, last in the line of a family of vampire hunters, Sypha Belnades, a member of the nomadic band of Speakers, and skilled magic user, and Alucard, the estranged, half vampiric son of Dracula himself, who has vowed to stop his father in his mother’s memory.

Right of the bat, the animation of this series rivals anything that’s ever been produced, or will be produced in the future. It captures the dark and eerie tone of the games perfectly, and everything from the characters to the environments is unique, distinguishable, and memorable. The performances by Richard Armitage, James Callis, Graham McTavish, and Alejandro Reynoso capture the characters of Trevor, Alucard, Dracula, and Sypha perfectly. They’re each completely different people, each with their own vices and virtues, and their own reasons for setting out on the paths they’ve chosen. While this show can be incredibly gruesome, with the animators not shying away from the explicit language, violence, gore, and horrific designs you would expect in a horror series, the show avoids becoming a terror fest by making great use of humor. 

Both seasons one and two are available for streaming, and a third season was just officially greenlit by Netflix, so gather your blessed whip, holy water, and your courage and prepare to face the legendary King of Vampires himself!

The Dragon Prince

Created by the same team who brought the classic Avatar: the Last Airbender to life for Nickelodeon, this charming, high fantasy show follows the adventures of Callum, the adopted son of the king of Katolis, his adopted brother Ezran, next in line for the throne, and Rayla, a Moonshadow Elf who was originally sent to assassinate Ezran, as they seek to bring peace to their war-torn world. After discovering that a dragon egg, thought long destroyed when humans killed the Dragon King, is in fact intact, the three companions set off on a quest to return the egg to the Dragon King, and mend the rift between humans and non-humans that has seen countless instances of death and suffering. But it will be a hard road, for sinister forces are in pursuit of the companions, wishing to see the egg destroyed, or used for their own dark purposes.

Making use of the some of the best computer based cell shading that’s ever been seen, the Dragon Prince is a light-hearted, fun filled adventure that the whole family can enjoy together. While it’s appropriate for all ages, the show doesn’t shy away from tackling some deep issues, like racism, the value of friendship, and the inevitability of death. Right from the beginning, each of the different races and characters are given their own unique personality quirks, making each one a well rounded, well realized character. There’s humor galor, mixed with some truly awesome battle sequences, that will leave your family entertained throughout! While only one season has been released so far, a second season has already been approved, and is expected to air sometime in 2019.

Devilman Crybaby

Adapting the classic Japanese manga series by Go Nagai, Devilman Crybaby takes place in modern day Japan, where gentle natured Akira Fudo lives with the Makimuras, his adopted family, including Miki, his friend since childhood whom he’s starting to develop romantic feelings for. After Ryo Asuka, another of Akira’s friends, informs him that an ancient race of demons has begun to wake after millions of years of hibernation, he convinces Ryo that they have to destroy the demons before they wipe out all of humanity. In order to achieve this, they need power, and that power comes from a demon named Amon. In a sequence bursting with nudity, gore, and demonic horror, Akira fuses with Amon, but because of his stern resolve to love and cherish all life, he’s able to resist the violent, cruel tendencies of the demon, and their merger forms Devilman.

One of the most powerful and heartbreaking shows in history, Devilman Crybaby is a deep and metaphorical reflection, wrapped up in an action horror package. While the main plot involves Devilman’s efforts to resist the demonic invasion that has begun to infest the earth, resulting in truly horrific scenes of blood, gore, and sexual content, the shows deals with some incredibly complex topics, including the angst of teenage identity and sexuality, the nature of family and friendship, and whether or not humans are perhaps more monstrous than the demons that threaten to destroy us.

The animation is both incredibly unique, sleek, and vivid. Director Masaaki Yuasa has both a fascination and appreciation for youth culture, and it shines through in the animations designs, inspired by graffiti, street art, and comics created by today’s youth. While the story is considered a timeless classic in Japan, where the manga has already been adapted several times, Devilman Crybaby is the first show to not only adapt this staple of Japanese pop culture for modern audiences, but to bring it into the Western consciousness.

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