Before I jump in, let me be straight with you: you should watch any piece of media you’re going to show before you show it. Every school, every district, every region has varying levels of what’s acceptable to be shown to students. What flies in my Brooklyn high school library would probably not have been acceptable in my Kissimmee middle school classroom. What I want to share are several newer anime that are fairly surefire hits that I feel are low on fan service and gratuitous violence.
So, you have an anime club. You want to show students anime, but also don’t want to have an uncomfortable conversation with your principal. The key of course is to be aware of titles that are appropriate, but you personally are not really into anime. It’s crazy to expect a non-fan to sift through the exponentially growing catalog of anime with no guidance.
I plan to make this a recurring list, so these are picks from what’s currently popular.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Official Description: First year high schooler Midori Asakusa loves anime so much, she insists that “concept is everything” in animation. Though she draws a variety of ideas in her sketchbook, she hasn’t taken the first step to creating anime, insisting that she can’t do it alone. The producer-type Sayaka Kanamori is the first to notice Asakusa’s genius. Then, when it becomes clear that their classmate, charismatic fashion model Tsubame Mizusaki, really wants to be an animator, they create an animation club to realize the “ultimate world” that exists in their minds.
Currently streaming on Crunchyroll and VRV, this is the safest of all possible anime. The series is a love letter to animation, with stunning sequences. The characters are the truest to real life high schoolers I have EVER seen depicted in anime. The three girls who run the club are dedicated and imaginative, and not sexualized. The series isn’t finished yet, but it’s a fairly safe bet that this anime is going to be a classic. The show comes from Science SARU, the same company that made Night is Short, Walk On Girl and (debuting tonight, 2/19) Ride Your Wave. It also has one of the best opening sequences in years.
Fruits Basket (2019)
Official Description: Tohru Honda thought her life was headed for misfortune when a family tragedy left her living in a tent. When her small home is discovered by the mysterious Soma clan, she suddenly finds herself living with Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure Soma. But she quickly learns their family has a bizarre secret of their own: when hugged by the opposite sex, they turn into the animals of the Zodiac!
This is the remade anime for the classic manga of the same name, and it is an absolute treat. The original anime was a bit rushed and was also made well before the manga was completed, which complicated the series quite a bit. The new anime has higher production values and is taking its time to really explore the characters and their relationships. It’s a sweet and powerful series, which lends itself to rich discussion and great activities.
Ascendance of a Bookworm
Official Description: Avid bookworm and college student Motosu Urano ends up dying in an unforeseen accident. This came right after the news that she would finally be able to work as a librarian like she had always dreamed of. When she regained consciousness, she was reborn as Myne, the daughter of a poor soldier. She was in the town of Ehrenfest, which had a harsh class system. But as long as she had books, she didn’t really need anything else. However, books were scarce and belonged only to the nobles. But that doesn’t stop her, so she makes a decision… “If there aren’t any books, I’ll just create some.”
Isekai series have been incredibly popular recently, and this series is one of the better ones. The premise, of a book lover reborn into a world where access to books is limited, is really interesting, and segues perfectly into the library. The series is based on light novels of the same name, rather than a manga. There’s a lot of talk about how books have been made historically, and it works quite well with book making workshops. I showed it to my club members before having them make books for the Ezra John Keats Bookmaking Competition.
The Promised Neverland
Official Description: The one adored as the mother is not the real parent. The people living here together are not actual siblings. The Gracefield House is where orphaned children live. An irreplaceable home where 38 siblings and Mom live happy lives, even with no blood relations. However, their everyday life suddenly came to an abrupt end one day…
A psychological thriller, this is one of the darker series on this particular list. That said, it’s mostly about the children having to outwit the adults, and actual violence is fairly minimal in this season of the anime. It’s reminiscent of many dystopian novels popular with teens, and is a frequently requested viewing.