Do you feel annoyed by the content of recent anime shows? Do you feel like anime plots were just “better back then”? Can’t deal with the moe biz or sticking to Seinen because you feel it has “more content in the story” compared to other genres? I’m sorry to break it to you pal, but you’re a hipster otaku. Now, ‘hipster anime’ is not exactly a genre, so we went with anime suitable for those into the hipster trend.
Now the definition of a hipster may vary, but there’s always some points in common which are: lifestyle, fashion, music, intellect and vintage. For this list, we've chosen ten anime that fit comfortably into these characteristics.
10. Chikyuu Shoujo Arjuna (Arjuna)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2001 - March 2001
Starting right off the bat with a series I personally didn't know existed before it being recommended to me. The hipster world is all about being underground and watching stuff before it becomes cool... here’s an old one for your hipster list: Arjuna.
So this chick, Juna, dies. Yeah, she dies in the first episode only to become the avatar of time who will save the planet Earth from its imminent death. An anime with a message to create consciousness about saving our nature, HELL YEAH! Now that's what I call core hipster, right there. This anime is kind of a mix between that old cartoon Captain Planet, Blue Seed and Tenchi Muyo’s main plot (just so you get an idea with more recognized titles...I think?). If you’re trying to help nature and create consciousness about our planet’s well-being, this is the series you’d want to watch and share as many times as possible.
9. Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2015 - October 2015
Oh yeah, from the type of hipster that likes to make a big deal out of trivial things like: “this corn chip not being GMO free” , “that latte is not made with soy milk farmed by a vegan” or “I read the book before the movie was created”; comes this otaku hipster “I was into Rie Matsumoto’s stories before Kekkai Sensen”, right? If you’re into Precure that is.
If you’re pretending to be hipster (otaku) just to be, well… hip, this series is something you’d want to show off. The director (obviating the part that she looks like a hipster herself) tried changing her sparkly magical girls for... Smokey magical guys in New York. The story is not complex, it's just out of order and kind of leaves you (very) confused at times. Mixing characters with super powers and personality, the director pulls off a series that can only be divided in two forms: hate it or love it; much like the hipster trend.
With no happy mediums, this series gives you the excellent opportunity to confuse your friends with the plot and pretend that you totally understand it and dig it (after you’ve cracked the order of the series on your 4th time watching it). When you’re done overreacting and actually watch the series accepting beforehand that you’ll be totally confused, the story becomes enjoyable and easy to watch.
8. Kuuchuu Buranko (Welcome to Irabu’s Office)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: October 2009 - December 2009
In this anime, there is a bizarre hospital for patients who are just as strange and when they visit the psychiatric ward of Irabu's General Hospital, they end up not only cured by the weird treatments of Dr. Ichirou Irabu, but also acquiring peace of mind. A comedy without saturated fanservice? A seinen without blood? An animation that makes you feel like you’re insane yourself? All checked! This anime certainly goes against the mainstream theme of anime. The story is about the psychological observation of patients during a period of 10 days. Everything from OCD to Freud's study of the human psyche, you'll find all sorts of topics that explore the human mind. Although the theme of mental illness may seem crude, it blends in art and comedy to create something surreal.
We classify this as hipster anime because it's incredibly unknown. The theme of the anime is a rare find and the different artstyle itself is eye candy for hipsters into pop art. Hurry and watch it before every else joins the bandwagon!
- Episodes: 47
- Aired: April 2006 - March 2007
Say guys, do you remember the first time you met Nana?
Nana Komatsu - in her 20s - is looking to start a new life as an adult, part of this involves running after her love to Tokyo. At the same time, Nana Osaki - punk rock singer - pursues the contrary of Komatsu, and is running away from her love, as well as, her band. The two birds of a feather meet and form an unbreakable bond in trying to figure out life together.
The realistic characters and not so perfect romances are the strong points of this series; something strongly related to the hipster world. Many hipsters - especially girls - are known to be hopeless romantics, often writing down their emotional experiences in poems or those “inspirational” pictures with messages we are so accustomed to see in social medias. Nana gives us just that dash of melancholic romance and poetry in its own way, showing us that love is not like a fairy tale. In addition to this, the series has a great OST performed by Nana’s band and a few others from the series.
6. The Dragon Dentist from Nihon Animator Mihonichi (Japan Anima(tor)'s Exhibition)
- Episodes: Short
- Aired: November 2014
The hipster world is a strange place where the more unknown the reference is, the more hip it becomes. That's why i'm bringing you not a series or an OVA, but a SHORT. Nothing is more hipster than an animation short, since you can only get them in expositions or events. This animation is produced by Dwango, under the name Nihon Animator Mihonichi, which is a series of small shorts that were overlooked by many otakus before the instant hit of the clip titled Me! Me! Me!.
The 35 shorts are named Japan Anima(tor)'s Exhibition as a whole, but in fact are singles that have nothing to do with each other (well, maybe one or two of them do). I have chosen The Dragon Dentist as my hipster shining star because of its good quality animation and plot. There's not much I can tell you without spoiling the story; it was the first of the shorts and it is roughly 7 minutes. This short features a girl, the youngest among the seven rookies. They are headed into some sort of war between humans and dragons and unfortunately, the characters are sent to aid the dragons. In such a short time, the animation delivers an extraordinary plot that will leave you thinking for days. This is a beautiful piece of art suitable of the hipster mindscape.
5. Serial Experiments Lain
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 1998 - September 1998
“And you don't seem to understand”… Is how the opening song greets you into Serial Experiments Lain, and you're certainly correct BoA1, we don't understand. Lain is one of the most hipster anime I can think of, the series is hipster gold. The story is a complicated analysis of the human mind and existence, and a girl named Lain is there to guide us into this madness.
The Wired is the equivalent of the anime’s version of the internet but it’s a much more abstract web to what we’re used to. Lain was not interested in the Wired at all, until the day she receives a strange email from a classmate who committed suicide a few days before the message. The strange part of this deal is that Lain, out of curiosity, continues to communicate with Chisa - the deceased girl - over a series of emails via the Wired. In these messages, Chisa constantly invites Lain to come inside the Wired, not fully understanding it herself, but into a deeper Wire, a place where one can exist being disembodied and experience the very presence of God.
As Lain digs deeper into the Wire, she loses her way in finding herself - if that even makes sense? Anywho, If you’re that kind of oblivious hipster who only watches anime with “strong meanings”, Lain will definitely be a handful.
1. BoA is the singer that performs Serial Experiments Lain’s Opening Song.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2004 - March 2005
I mean, just listen to the music from this band, it instantly throws you back 35 years. Soon you‘ll be dusting off cassettes and watching anime in VCRs. Hipsters are strongly into the music world and it's one of the most distinctive characteristic of the hipster lifestyle.
Beck is a series about a music band called BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. Our protagonist Yukio Tanaka felt that life was meaningless, until he discovers his passion for music after joining Ryuusuke's band. This anime is a realistic vision of life as a band struggling in the world of fame. Beck also has pretty neat jams featuring classic rock, blues, rap and hard rock for any type of your hipster music fixes.
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: August 2009
Redline makes it to the list thanks to the incredible stunt of the animators. In the midst of the digital revolution in the world of animation, the animators of Redline decided to show us the real potential of traditional hand animation. In a stunning 7 years production, the movie Redline ended up being… other-worldly. They took one of the most rare anime genre: racing, mixed it with epic vehicles, incredible characters and a majestic soundtrack to give birth to a legendary anime that sadly goes underestimated in the otaku world.
Step into the adrenaline-filled world of our protagonist, JP, and experience the maximum potential of the world of racing. This is a race across the galaxy, where only the best survive. Humans and aliens alike, race against each other for money and fame, the competitions have only a few rules to abide by, and equipping weapons to your vehicles to get rid of your competitors is not in the restrictions. Redline is the ultimate race, and it has absolutely no rules, only entering means putting your life on the line. To make things even more interesting, Redline will take place in a planet who is ruled solely by a warmonger. Ignoring this ruler and his warnings to kill anyone in sight, the racers enter the planet and compete. Who will make it out alive and victorious?
2. Dimension W
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 - March 2016
Dimension W is a recent anime from winter 2016, but being new doesn't stop it from being hipster. Mainly, I want to highlight the main character Mabuchi Kyouma, for keeping his hipster chill in a futuristic world. Dimension W is a series where the world has discovered unlimited energy derived from another dimension designated as ‘dimension w’. This energy is stored in devices called Coils, all of which are owned by the Tesla Energy Company. As expected, many people seek illegal usage of this power, resulting in the creation of unofficial coils. Bounty hunters set out to retrieve these illegal coils for money, most of them use coils to help them fight, but Kyouma says: Nope.
Kyouma refuses to use coils by all means and believes life can be complete without this technology. Even his clothes are old fashioned, as his attire resembles that of a traditional Japanese male Kabushiki and some old fashioned jika-tabi style sandals (ninja shoes!). He takes down enemies using coil-free weapons that look like darts/knives, and he attacks as if he has Three Dimensional Maneuver Gears from Attack on Titan. In the end, he never collects the money but instead is paid with gasoline to fuel his beloved retro cars. This anime revolves around Kyouma and his life so it's safe to say this series will shine in your hipster radar.
1. Paradise Kiss
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2005 - December 2005
The first thing that stands out in hipsters is their fashion. They mix vintage or retro attire with modern fashion and it oddly goes better than you expect. Hipsters pay attention to the way they dress, making sure that what they wear is not from your mainstream shops. Thats one of the main reasons why Paradise Kiss is our top pick.
This anime isn't flagged under the hipster radar and I can understand why, at plain sight it doesn't look hipster, but once you see it you won't be able to differ. The story is about Yukari, a girl that starts to discover her path in life and embraces the world of fashion, luxury and lust. She becomes a model for Paradise Kiss, a group of people with their own clothing brand. All the characters constantly clash with each other because they have different styles and personalities that can brush off as arrogant or with a sense of superiority. They hang out and showcase most of their work in a bar that seems to be visited only by them. We got attitude, fashion, drama and vintage, all while enjoying smooth jazz in the background. This series is Paradise Hipster.
To be quite honest, this list was more than I could chew. Even if the term Hipster is common in the west and it has spread like wildfire around the world in this last decade, it apparently hasn't reached Japan quite yet or at least in the Japanese animation industry. For the Japanese, it’s very hard to grasp the definition of hipster, since all the hipsters in Japan are doing damn good in keeping themselves hidden from the mainstream.
There is literally no such thing as a hipster anime yet but, as this list proves, there IS some hipster essence in some series, specially in older anime. I’m willing to bet you can't find more hipster anime than these mentioned in the list, but you’re welcome to prove me wrong in the comments. Can there be a more hipster anime than these 10? Tell us below!