Five Anime That Are Better The Second Time Around

Anime is like chocolate: often, easily consumable with a machine-stamped taste and shape; less often, a rich, subtle experience you can't quite understand after just one bite.

Fooly Cooly

The former type of anime, sugar-sweet with fan service, is its own art form. But its obvious character tropes and riffs on past blockbusters can strike too hard, leaving little to the imagination. Watch it once and you get the point. Others boast personalities so subtle, plots so mysterious and animation styles so complex that one watch isn't enough to get the picture. In fact, it's arguable that, for select few titles, the second watch is when you experience the real anime.

Below is my list of the five most rewatchable anime. Take a look and post your own in the comments:

Fooly Cooly

Fooly Cooly

Fooly Cooly is a completely different anime depending on when you watch it. In early adolescence (likely, late night on Adult Swim), it's the story of a 12-year-old boy, his alien housekeeper, his perverted father and a delinquent, sad girl who hangs under a bridge, all against a dope stoner alt soundtrack. Later in adolescence, Fooly Cooly is a raunchy allegory about puberty and the embarrassment of losing control of your body. Into adulthood, it's a genius work of art, with unparalleled animation, still about puberty, but also about whether alienating yourself from the chaotic world around you is the best way to deal.

Nana

Nana

I haven't found another shōjo anime quite like Nana. Its characters are morally fluid, realer than nearly any fictional people I'd ever read or watched. At one moment, protagonist Nana Komatsu is impulsive, needy and completely ignorant of the world around her; and at others, she views her decisions from birds-eye, a wise woman detached from the person who lives out her actions. Likewise, counter-protagonist Nana Osaki is both wretchedly cold and consumingly in need of others' love. Nana's cast defies stereotype. Each watch highlights another character motivation previously overlooked.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

There isn't really another option aside from watching Madoka twice. It's a short series — only 12 episodes — that slowly unveils how horrific it is inside its sugary magical girl shell. Although the first few episodes are full of light-hearted magical-girl tropes, this is some dark shit. Sympathetic characters become nightmarish sociopaths while apparent the antagonist is, in fact, the truest hero. Madoka's second run-through bears an entirely different anime, sadder and more complicated with time.

FMA:B

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Where to begin. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is world-building genius. Ripe with religious zealots, homunculi, dreadful personal losses, incredible fighting and, obviously, alchemy, FMA:B is certainly one of my top anime; but that's not what makes it so rewatchable. This is an anime comfortable with ethical ambiguity: Is it wrong to resurrect a person? Is it ever right to kill? When does a job become an occupation, and finally, a way of life? FMA:B never feeds you those answers. But, on a second watch, knowing where each character is coming from brings vivid colour to each ethical question they encounter.

Gankutsuou

Gankutsuou

Based on The Count of Monte Cristo, Gankutsuou's animation style is about layering psychedelic patterns that shift on top of each other to create a shimmering, multi-dimensional effect. In it, "The Count," a mysterious, wealthy aristocrat, arrives in the far-future to take revenge on those who betrayed him. It's a vicious story in which characters struggle against the stacked hand of the Count. Knowing who the Count is and why he's returned makes every moment of innocence sweeter, and every loss greater. Its lavish animation style serves its bourgeoisie French designs well, but also delivers its sci-fi undertones.


Comments

    Eden of the East

      No. It became increasingly more non-sensical, it betrayed it's interesting promise and by the time the whole shebang was over, the plotholes you had doggedly ignored until then had become massive singularities that sucked in whatever good feelings and excitement you ever felt for the franchise.

        Yeah I watched the movies out of obligation to liking the series.

        Eh, I enjoyed it for something different compared to other animes.

    Good lord Baccano should be on this list.
    It's friggin fantastic and barely makes sense until you watch it a second time.

      so much this, and just for the guns and roses opening spiel of each episode

    Eh I didn't care much about FLCL. Didn't see anything gripping about it

      I loved it at the time, tried to watch it again and could even finish it. The soundtrack is good though

      That's what a rewatch does for you. Or a second or third. Behind the frantic weirdness there's a nuanced and complex plot that is easy to miss and the whole thing is an adroit metaphor for puberty. I recommend reading some analysis of the series before rewatching.

      It was a very special and unique show back in 2000. Did a lot of things that nothing else had done, and had very striking animation, plus one of the first to move off of traditional animation completely and go fully digital.

      But if you're going back to it now and watching for the first time, most of the things that made it unique aren't unique any more.

    FMA: Brotherhood YES!!!

    I've watched this 4 times over and I will be doing it again.

    I feel like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Revolutionary Girl Utena are better on a second viewing after you know the meanings of the terms used and character relationships.

      Insane to have a list like this and have drek like Nana or Gankutsuou on it instead of those two. Utena especially. The ending of that basically twists everything and makes you see the whole show in a different light.

        I am all for Eva and Utena, but crapping on Nana is unwarranted. Gankutsuou I can leave or take.

    Fooly Cooly

    Do everyone a favour and just say 'FLCL'. I don't care that the characters actually say the words 'Fooly Cooly' in the show; just go with what's written on the DVD.

      Yeah, I don't think I've ever seen anyone refer to it in text as anything but FLCL before now.

    "Gankutsuou"
    I couldnt even get through the first time. I dont think i made it past episode 3.
    So ill have to take your word for it.

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