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As you may have guessed these ten unique anime are all set in the U.S.A. Now, I say they’re unique, but there’s really a caveat to that adjective. They’re probably only unique to you if you’re an American. That’s because they all are Japanese depictions of how American society functions and how its citizens behave. Though they are entertaining, they also give a bit of insight as to who America is seen by non-western countries.
Not all of these try to depict typical human interactions in the U.S. Some of them are anime versions of typical American genres such as the Old West with cowboys or superhero fiction where the hero fights criminals and supervillains. Still others take a great narrative and use America as a setting to enhance the story overall.
There’s a good variety of shows on this list. Some of them have a more stereotypical anime feel when it comes to execution. Others definitely feel heavily influenced by western storytelling and character prototypes. So, take a look at these recommendations and start with the one that piques your interest most.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 1, 2010 to Sep 23, 2010
- Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Shounen
Joey is a young boy living in Center City. He is always bullied by some of the rich kids at school. He works a part-time job to support his grandmother, who he lives with.
One day, some students are playing with a Heybo (a new robotic toy), but it is run over by a car when they lose control of it. Joey then takes it home, tries to put it back together and affectionately names it “Heroman”.
One night Heroman is hit by a strange bolt of lightning. The storm was caused by the arrival of an alien race called the Skrugg, entering Earth’s atmosphere. Heroman transforms into a giant version of itself with colors from the U.S. flag emblazoned on it. Now, it’s up to Joey, Heroman, and his friends to stand up against the invasion of the Skrugg.
2. Red Garden
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct 4, 2006 to Mar 14, 2007
- Genre: Mystery, Drama
The story centers on four female students from an elite school in New York City. Clare, Kate, Rachel, and Rose pretty much have nothing in common except that they’re all friends of another girl named Lisa.
The school is in disarray after learning that Lisa had committed suicide the night before. Classes are canceled and the students return home, all except the four girls. Unfortunately, they have no memory of the night before. On top of that, they see visions of ghostly red butterflies. Each of them follows these visions and eventually they meet up at a scary park at night.
There they encounter a strange man and woman who are able to shed a bit of light on the events of the previous night. The four girls find out that they were actually all murdered the night before. The only reason they are “alive” now is because they have been cursed to find and kill zombie-like creatures. If they don’t work together and fight this threat, their bodies will deteriorate and their new lives will be taken away from them forever.
Red Garden Trailer
3. The Big O
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 13, 1999 to Mar 27, 2003
- Genre: Action, Mystery, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Psychological
Forty years ago some drastic event happened that wiped all of the memories of the inhabitants of Paradigm City. Since then, people have been living in a haze of confusion with no memories of anything before the event or any hope for their future.
Professional “negotiator” Roger Smith, along with Norman, Dorothy, and his giant mecha Big O, take on the responsibility of keeping the city safe. He is hired to investigate various activities throughout the city’s slums involving gangs and criminals.
But, as tensions continue to rise and violent actions breakout throughout the city, it’s up to Smith’s group to uncover the past and lead the people of Paradigm into a brighter future.
The Big O OP1
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 27, 2007 to Nov 2, 2007
- Genre: Action, Comedy, Mystery, Historical, Supernatural, Seinen
Three captivating stories are intertwined in this mafia-themed anime set in Chicago during the 1930’s. Weaving throughout all three are Isaac and Mira. Two thieves who interact with the large cast of characters, create bonds, and undergo experiences that the viewer tries to make sense of in this time shifting anime thriller.
All three stories are told from different perspectives. Also, each story has a mostly different cast of characters. So, it definitely benefits you to pay close attention to the story arcs. Otherwise, you may miss out on some subtle but key elements of the narrative.
The first story focuses on the mafia and alchemists working together to create an elixir that gives its user immortality.
The second is set during the first transcontinental journey of the Flying Pussyfoot. Things seem cheerful and full of hope for the people onboard the train until a robbery occurs and a massacre ensues.
The last tale revolves around Eve Genoad’s search of her brother Dallas. During her journey, she becomes entangled in a turf war between two feuding families.
5. Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkaisensen) [spring 2015]
- Episodes: Not Yet Aired
- Aired: Apr 5, 2015 to ?
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Supernatural, Seinen
Tragedy strikes New York City as it is destroyed in a single night and immediately filled with monsters that have arrived from another dimension. A barrier is created to keep the monsters and the people from escaping. Curiously enough, it doesn’t stop people from entering.
Blood Blockade Battlefront, or B3, is an on-going manga that will receive its anime adaptation this upcoming spring. The manga has a long build up with attention placed on developing this unique world, the type of monsters that have crossed over, and their interaction with humans.
This series was made by the creator of Trigun, so it has similar character development and pacing. Not much has been revealed about the anime adaptation, but check it out if you’re a fan of Yasuhiro Nightow.
Blood Blockade Battlefront PV
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 7, 2003 to Mar 30, 2004
- Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Seinen
The show begins with the reveal of a character called “Beyond the Grave”. He was created as the perfect killing machine. Grave is intent on destroying Millenion and killing a man named Harry MacDowell.
The story then shifts to the past. “Grave” was once a regular man. His name was Brandon Heat and he was actually best friends with Harry. But, after a tragic incident they are forced into joining the city’s biggest crime syndicate, Millenion.
From there, the story follows Harry’s rise through the ranks of Millenion. All the while, Brandon stays by his side as a loyal companion. However, something will happen that will ultimately create a rift between the two and turn Brandon into the revenge-seeking monster he is today.
7. Pet Shop of Horrors
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: Mar 2, 1999 to Mar 23, 1999
- Genre: Mystery, Horror, Supernatural
This isn’t your typical pet shop with puppies, goldfish, and hamsters. Count D’s shop contains rare and exotic animals. It attracts the kind of customers who would do anything to take these one of a kind pets home. And, he happily obliges.
The customers take their “lovable” pets home after signing a contract with Count D. The terms of which state that he cannot be held accountable for anything that may happen should a customer break the stipulations of said contract.
Of course, some customers don’t take the warning to heart and accidents occur. Fatal accidents.
Cue in homicide detective Leon Orcot. He is investigating these deaths. He discovers a common link among all the cases: Count D’s Pet Shop. Leon is determined to find out what exactly happened to these people and what are the motives behind the pet shop owner’s actions.
Pet Shop of Horrors Trailer
8. Chrono Crusade
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Nov 24, 2003 to Jun 10, 2004
- Genre: Action, Demon, Romance, Supernatural
Demonic forces are on the rise in New York City. The only organization capable of fighting this threat is the Magdalene Order. The story follows two of the most powerful members of the organization.
Rosette Christopher is our main protagonist. She is a 16-year-old exorcist who goes on missions to fight and exorcise the demons throughout the city. Though she dutifully follows the organization’s orders, her main focus is on finding her lost brother Joshua. He was kidnapped by a demon named Aion.
Chrono is the second protagonist and Rosette’s partner. He is a demon with the ability to change his appearance into three different forms. Though he seems gentle, he is actually in a constant struggle with his demonic nature.
Together, they fight against the forces of evil. But, while they’re battling the demonic threat, some dark secrets from their past also begin to surface.
Chrono Crusade Trailer
9. Gun Frontier
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Mar 28, 2002 to Jun 20, 2002
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Shounen
The Gun Frontier is a barren wasteland located in the Western frontier of the United States. The harsh elements and the treacherous landscape are the breeding grounds for tall tales and legends. It is a place where the minds and wills of men are tested to their limit.
In a town called Samurai Creek, a clan of Japanese immigrants were massacred. Only a few managed to survive. Tochiro Oyama is one of those survivors.
Captain Harlock is Tochiro’s faithful companion. He owes Tochiro his life so he tries to repay by helping his friend search for the remaining survivors of the Japanese clan. In particular, they are looking for the samurai’s sister, rumored to still be alive.
Throughout their search of the wasteland they come across bandits, corrupt officials, and find an ally in a mysterious woman who seems to carry a dark secret.
Gun Frontier OP
10. Batman: Gotham Knight
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: Jul 8, 2008
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Martial Arts
This animated movie contains six short stories. Each animated short was created by a different Japanese animation studio. So, even though they all have a unique artistic style, they create a somewhat cohesive anthology that bridges the gap between Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Every story covers a different facet of the Batman mythos. They touch on how he deals with pain, the types of gadgets in his arsenal, and his rogues gallery. Batman early on in his career as a crime fighter, so it’s nice to see his struggles fleshed out a bit. It makes his eventual rise as a the true champion of Gotham that much more rewarding.
Gotham Knight Trailer
Superheroes, mysteries, demons, gunslingers, monsters… this list has so many options for you. Take in this mix of American and Japanese cultures. Then, keep an eye out for Blood Blockade Battlefront this spring!