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Who doesn’t love a good fantasy, science fiction, or super hero story, accompanied by our favorite, moe-eyed protagonist with the unrealistic body proportions of our dream? Space cowboys, samurai who can split mountains, super heroes with the power of demi-gods, anime is filled with ways to expand our imagination, to dream of worlds and possibilities greater than our own… and I’m here to tell you that’s a load of excrement from a male cow. Ever since the first electrons burned pictures on glass via a cathode ray tube, man has only had one mission: To indoctrinate… I mean to educate. You there! Reading this article: You thought you could escape an education by running into worlds of dragons and spaceships and lasers and sorcery and stuff? WRONG! Today, you’re going to learn something. Today, after reading this article, you will know ten anime that will massage your brain cells and smooth out those mental wrinkles: The top 10 educational anime.
10. Fate Series
Yes, I know I said this list would be educational, but who ever said education can’t be fun, as in summoning-heroic-spirits-from-across-time-to-fight-for-the-Holy-Grail fun? For those not in the know, the Fate series consists of several shows with easy to understand plots with a confusing multi-verse of characters. You have the Fate/Stay Night, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel paths, which feature the same characters in alternate realities, Fate Apocrypha, which throws away the rules established in the original timeline for team battles, Fate/Grand Order, which has a different team of fighters traveling across time to fix distortions, and… You see why this series is confusing right? The thing you should be able to grasp is the educational importance of the anime: Each summoner in the show commands a Heroic Spirit who represents a person or legend throughout history. King Arthur (who is a chick by the way… because it’s anime), Medusa, Gilgamesh, and Hercules represent some of the characters in the original series, while Alexander the Great, Shirou Kotomine, Joan D’Arc, Jack the Ripper, Spartacus, and Leonidas are seen in others, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Essentially, watching the Fate Series is a history, mythological legend lover’s wet dream, and an educational anime any history fan shouldn’t miss, especially if their definition of a “history lesson” is seeing characters throughout history beating the crap out of each other with super-powers.
9. Sounan Desu ka? (Are You Lost?)
Surviving without the things we take for granted, like a cell phone, grocery stores, and a working toilet, has always been considered a man’s occupation. Well, I’m here to tell you, just as there are men who love playing with dolls and wearing make-up, there are plenty of women who are “Daddy’s girls,” whose skills in auto-repair and hunting can put most men to shame. The protagonist of Sounan Desu ka is such a girl, and she needs to be as she and four other classmates get stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. Using the skills she learned from her survivalist Dad, she whips her classmates into shape on surviving when all you have is a forest before you and the clothes on your back, making “Bears Grylls the anime” a great educational show for camping and survival enthusiasts.
8. Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department
Are you a hater of any TV show, Walmart shelf item, or movie that didn’t turn out precisely the way your meticulous, subjective mind wanted it? Boy (or Gal) do I have the anime for you! Though not as overt with educating you as other shows here, Monster Development (For short, because the name’s longer than a Panic! At the Disco song title) showcases the tedious process of product development. From balancing budgets, to introducing applications that are actually impractical, to your sponsors wanting an addition “because it looks cute,” there are many reasons why the soup of pleasantness you imagined comes out resembling a witch’s stew that smells of roasted farts… without Shion’s Master Chef ability. Maybe this show will make you more sympathetic the next time you think of sending death threats because they changed your waifu’s hair in the Netflix adaptation? Or maybe you’ll just learn something from this awesome anime, considering the “products” Miss Kuroitsu develops are monsters meant to kill the Power Rangers.
7. Tenchi Souzou Design-bu (Heaven’s Design Team)
Most of you have probably heard the story of Adam and Eve from the Christian Bible. God created the heavens and Earth in six days, rested on the seventh, and gave Adam the job of naming all the animals on the planet… But do you REALLY think that’s how it happened? Sure, God probably created the universe, but a man so dumb he broke God’s one law before he made ten, all because his wife said “But do it though,” supposedly, this man had the intelligence to name all the animals on the planet? No, I’m telling you it was a team of eccentric angels named after the nine planets (Yes I said nine, because Pluto is bae) created all the animals… and named them! Nah, but seriously (Pluto is bae), Heaven’s Design Team not only touches on the grueling process of product development, but also shines with its lessons on zoology. A former science major myself, I grew giddy when God would create an order for the angels to fill and I guessed correctly at what animal they created. Learning the different abilities of modern animals, as well as why unicorns and dragons can’t exist, created a fun, educational ride, making Heaven’s Design Team a solid anime for this list (And Pluto is bae).
The world is filled with many self-proclaimed futurists who dream of revolutionizing the world. Henry Ford dreamed of making humans work 9 to 5 every day to live, Jeff Besos dreams of streamlining production with humans meeting quotas dictated by algorithms, Elon Musk dreams of improving cultural and ethnic relations in the workplace by acting like they don’t exist… You also have futurists concerned about climate change, AI, and updated water filtration systems… But what about space debris? Planetes not teaches us about the dangers of space debris if we let it get out of control, but also about celestial orbits, and how, similarly with the frontline workers of today, space debris haulers of the future will get shitty pay and little respect from their peers. On a serious note though, the writing in Planetes is stellar, making every episode feel like a self-contained movie while drawing themes from previous stories. Even if you never had dreams of being an astronaut or an underappreciated debris hauler, you’ll still find something worth remembering in this one.
5. Ascendance Of A Bookworm
Isekai anime, the hated/loved genre dominating the market where a character from our reality is suddenly transferred to a different one, get a bad rep, and I completely understand why: One’s eyes can only be glued open for so long when viewing the antics of male-power-harem-fantasy-#2,236,937 (a relative approximation I think). Fortunately, shows exist that break the tired tropes to do something unexpected, like: Instead of having a guy get broken powers and a harem of willing women he never commits to, why not follow a little girl with a loving family in a magical world who loves books? Better yet, let’s teach our viewers about book making, business competition, and the dangers of changing the foundation of a medieval fantasy world? Ascendance Of A Bookworm proves you don’t need explosions and jiggle bits to make a great anime, for some of our fantasy paradises are just filled with books and a desire for peace.
4. Spice and Wolf
Picking up on the medieval themes again, at first glance (and at a first reading of the title), Spice and Wolf appears to be a guilty pleasure anime, when you consider how a traveling salesman finds a nude, female fox spirit in his wagon that refuses to leave his side. However, this one delves deeper as Holo and Larz use their wits and knowledge of their world’s medieval economy to survive instead of fox magic. Dubbed the “Economics anime,” Spice and Wolf not only tells a charming story between Holo and Larz’s budding relationship, but also deals the ever dooming issue of money when you don’t have monsters dropping loot to depend on, a stress nearly all working adults deal with. Unfortunately, the slow pacing of the anime might put some off (This one is just a little shy of sitting in a classroom with that one teacher who prefers videos over piles of lecture notes), but for those who don’t mind some fine wine with their anime, you’ll want to try Spice and Wolf.
3. Dr. Stone
If you don’t have a passion for it, science can be one of the most boring subjects you have to gnaw your teeth at as the teacher tries to drill in your head what the mitochondria is, why breathing just oxygen can kill you, and why the hell a prairie dog isn’t a member of the Canidae family. In between all the facts you don’t need to remember to survive, or even to build a better life, I’d argue if science classes used more practical applications outside of a boring classroom, you’d have more STEM students than business majors, and what better way to make science practical than to place your students in a post-apocalyptic world! Dr. Stone takes the measure to the extreme by having a mysterious ray turn the world to stone, then having all humans awaken thousands of years later, the genius scientist Senku Ishigami the one tasked with bringing back the technology of our lost civilization. Through Dr. Stone’s Macgyver montages, you'll learn how to build ever day items from scratch, and how those every day items we take for granted are crucial to decreasing your mortality rate (like how soap keeps you from visiting the doctor, dehydrated food saves resources, and communication can make or break an army). I personally wish the show was a little less Shonen and didn’t make everyone look like a high schooler, but this doesn’t negate the ability of Dr. Stone to make science more appealing while displaying its practical-over-theory side, making it round out the top 3 of this list.
2. Cells At Work! and Code Black
It’s easy to make an educational show by having your characters use a skill set followed by an info-dump montage, but I’d argue it’s harder to make those characters the concepts themselves, and then to make them more dimensional than a sheet of paper. Cells at Work! does the latter brilliantly by following the naivete of a red blood cell fresh from the bone marrow as she’s saved time and time again by her husbando, White Blood Cell, against infections. The show is hilarious, cute, could be family friendly if you could turn off the excess blood like an old Mortal Kombat game… Then you have the dark, dramatic masterpiece that is Code Black, which takes all the Shonen from original series, throws it in a blender, and forces you to question your life’s choices like smoking (Yes, vaping too you New Age bastards), getting shit-faced drunk, overworking, and STDs. Whether you love Cells At Work! or its darker sequel more, or you watch them wrong and think they're a glorification of the grueling Japanese work ethic, there is one thing I can guarantee: You’ll never look at your body the same again after watching this series. Such an effect makes Cells At Work! rightfully earn the #2 spot.
1. Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove It
Yes, I know I rapped on scientific theory earlier by applauding Dr. Stone, but I still refuse to completely discount it. Despite practical application being more tangible, theory lies in the realm of dreams, where new possibilities are discovered and revolutions are made. Science Fell in Love dips you into the world of scientific theory with one top university student confessing her love to another, then both students hilariously trying to quantify the proof of their love. What results is a romantic comedy journeying into statistics, chemistry, physics, and even more science disciplines than you can spank a protractor at. Science nerds will giggle harder than discovering why an atom is positive another atom stole his electron after bumping into him, while romantic comedy lovers may melt as the protagonist tries to discover a kiss with the “highest theoretic value,” and education-hunters will feel right at home knowing the anime inspiring this list in the first place sits at #1.
Improve Thy Brain Power!
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