Most anime coming out in recent years have been of a short length, between 10 and 13 episodes. Some stretch it to 24 or so, and some get the ever-fabled second season. There are a tonne of reasons for this, but that does mean that massive long-running shows are few and far between (no, Naruto doesn’t count here). The ‘big 3’ shounen series (One Piece, Naruto, Bleach) are the only long shows a lot of people can name, but there are more out there to enjoy. And they’re totally different from the big 3, so why not spend your summer watching something worthwhile?
Longer anime don’t just build up a few characters- they build up an entire world for you. Immersing you in every single character’s backstory and exploring every avenue for plotlines. That’s something that Inuyasha does spectacularly. It might be super old, having had its debut in the year 2000, but it’s a classic with a quiet but dedicated bunch of fans. A behemoth of 167 episodes, a further 26 episodes were added in 2009, along with bright new animation and new voice actors. If you’ve never heard of this show, then it follows a middle-schooler named Kagome, who falls down a magic well at her family’s shrine that transports here to feudal Japan. Here she meets Inuyasha, a half-demon who is desperately searching for a jewel that will bolster his power. Together they work to find the pieces of the jewel, and to defeat an all-powerful demon intent on ruining Inuyasha’s life. Of course along the way they meet companions and other demons, defeating dozens of obstacles all while getting closer to each other. A lot of use didn’t start watching Inuyasha until well after its release date, but the charm of the show is timeless. It has a beautiful soundtrack, a good animation style, and an immersive story. It has adventure, tragedy, romance, fantasy, and comedy, so there’s something in there for everyone. Inuyasha is a pretty great example of a long-running show with a fully realised world.
While Inuyasha’s total of 193 episodes is rather daunting, it’s easy to marathon. At a paltry 74 episodes, Monster might seem a lot easier to swallow. On the contrary, it is probably ten times harder to marathon than Inuyasha. Forget delightful fantasy settings, forget emphasis on friendship and teamwork- in fact, forget any ideas of happiness. Only kidding. It’s not that joyless. Monster is an epic about a Japanese neurosurgeon working in Germany. He faces the moral dilemma of choosing to operate on the town’s ill mayor, or operate on a little boy who got shot in the head. His choice comes back to haunt him with a series of brutal murders, and he must catch the monster responsible for it, all while trying to find out just who the real monster is in all of this. It’s a gritty crime thriller with an intensely psychological plot. The reason Monster is so difficult to marathon is that the subject matter is awfully heavy. But if you leave long gaps between episodes, you’ll forget what happened. For a lot of the drama relies on the viewer being able to piece things together in their head. But, in many of our humble opinion, these things make Monster the classic that it is, and you’d be a fool not to at least give it a try.
If you don’t want to watch something that’s exceedingly lengthy, and you don’t fancy following a neurosurgeon round 1980s Germany, maybe you could try on some short shounen series on for size. They’re not rife with fillers like Naruto or Bleach, but they’re just long enough to satisfy you. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (or its 2003 counterpart) is 64 episodes long and filled with all the elements that make Inuyasha or other fantasy series great. You’ve got your tragedy in spades, a well-built world, and a My Anime List rating of 9/10 (the reviewers speak for many of us). Or how about Soul Eater, 51 episodes of quirky animation and one of the great shounen with a female protagonist. Shounen doesn’t have to all be about 2 dimensional, overpowered characters. Long running shows don’t have to be about endless fillers.
We’ve got the whole summer ahead of us to enjoy. If you’re not planning on sampling the plethora of adorable shoujos available to you this season, why not take a step back and enjoy some long epics?