This week marks the release of the first half of world-famous director Shinichiro Watanabe‘s Carole & Tuesday, which was kept inside the Netflix bingewatch prison for months after its release in Japan. It’s finally out now – at least the first half is, and we’re excited to see it, which is why we’ve got this list of the top 5 anime ever made by the show’s talented and influential creative director, Shinichiro Watanabe, who you may remember as the director of a little anime called Cowboy Bebop.
5. Macross Plus
Lots of folks don’t know this, but Watanabe was the driving force behind what many people call the pinnacle of the historic and beloved Macross franchise – 1994’s Macross Plus, which over 4 episodes (and a movie) tells the story of 3 fragile lives intertwined, impossibly, against the backdrop of a world facing the malevolent force of Sharon Apple, an artificially intelligent being fueled by human emotion that threatens our entire planet. Sounds familiar, right?
4. Space Dandy
Heavily promoted by Adult Swim upon its release in 2014 and one of the first shows to get an English dub that broadcasted alongside its official release, Space Dandy is a delightfully weird anthology show with imagery in it that clearly reflects Watanabe’s obsessions – from old cars, to cats, to the Southern California neon skyline, to friendly robots. Sure, Dandy has its problems – but this entire 26-episode show is a creative explosion from an entire mountain of legendary Japanese artists making basically whatever they want, and if you’re down for that – it’s here.
You should consider being down for that.
Watanabe’s directorial follow-up to Cowboy Bebop was an astonishing, gorgeously directed mashup of samurai movie cliches and early-2000s hiphop culture with some truly incredible fight scenes in it – it’s a ton of fun and virtually nothing like it has been made since, and the soundtrack has almost nothing but bangers on it. If you haven’t seen this one, you owe it to yourself to dig it up and check it out. You won’t regret it.
2. Carole & Tuesday
We’ve only got the first half in English in America for now, but Watanabe has blown up once more – the story of two friends who find eachother even though they’re struggling with the difficult life of being a creative person who can’t handle it when they aren’t allowed to express themselves, fighting the system and making art. They run, they create – they make things together, and it’s a beautiful, and potentially legendary addition to Watanabe’s already enormous body of work. We’re very excited to see if this one sticks the landing.
1. Cowboy Bebop
Well, what did you expect? Watanabe’s unstoppable 1998 sci-fi masterpiece – which has no shortage of appreciation from the millions of people who have loved the wildly creative and occasionally heartbreaking adventures of Spike, Faye, Jet, Ed and Ein for over 20 years now – needs virtually no explanation or introduction. Cowboy Bebop is still one of the biggest anime to ever land on Earth, which it did – like a meteor. The only question that remains is – what’s your favorite episode?