This is quite possibly my last Nerdy for Newbies, considering I’m running out of modes of nerdiness. I mean, there are books, but these days the mere act of reading is considered nerdy. This one might possibly be the most important of them all, however, because cartoons are usually where you develop your nerd basis.
Again, this is just my opinion and not based on a poll or anything that requires more technology than the occasional “hmmm” and Google search.
Everyone’s heard of Pokemon, even if they’ve never heard the word “anime.” Pokemon is so much more than just a show, however. There have been dozens of games, toys, cards and so on made, and I’ve taken part in most of these. Through all of this, you can literally immerse yourself in a Pokemon world.
Despite that, the shows are where it’s at. From the Indigo League and on, this series captured the imaginations of children and adults across the world. Only two series are on Netflix: “Indigo League” and “Black and White.”
There are also four movies currently on Netflix–none of them are the cool ones I grew up with, but hey. I personally can recommend “Indigo League” with Ash, Brock and Misty to get to the foundations of Pokemon, but “Black & White” is really excellent for getting kids these days introduced to the series.
On Prime, you can watch “Ruby and Sapphire” and “Pokemon Origins” season one.
I usually think of my early years watching anime in a trifecta: “Pokemon,” “Digimon” and “Dragon Ball Z.” This show is probably the least popular of the three, but it is still worthy of recognition.
The three seasons of the first show are on Netflix twice, first in English as “Digimon: Digital Monsters”and second in Japanese as “Digimon Adventure,” along with one of the later series, “Digimon Fusion,” that I admittedly never watched. In the original show, seven kids find these weird “Digivices” and get dragged along a datastream and into a brand new world filled with monsters. They try to find their way home with the digital monster, “Digimon,” that their Digivice pairs them with. These monsters, like in Pokemon, can evolve and learn new powers.
There are movies connected with this show as well, though none are on Netflix, and a series of short films called “Digimon Adventure Tri” will be coming out in November to commemorate the 15 year anniversary of the original series.
3. Dragon Ball Z
I will prelude this one by saying there are no free episodes on either Netflix or Amazon Prime. It’s fairly expensive to legally watch this show, as the seasons run high in cost at most stores due to its popularity. That said, its popularity is well-earned.
“Dragon Ball” is the main character, Goku, on adventures as a kid, and the later “Dragon Ball Z” episodes follow him starting in early adulthood, fighting aliens to protect planet Earth. Goku himself is a Saiyan, a race of people with a human appearance, aside from their monkey tails, and super human strength. If you want to see a lot of action and become obsessed with the idea of doing the “Kamehameha,” this is the show to watch.
4. Avatar: the Last Airbender
This one’s relatively short with only three seasons, and you can find it all on Prime. It’s a quirky and fun show about a world where benders can control the elements of fire, earth, water and air. There is one person at all times who is reincarnated to be “The Avatar” and can use all the elements. From birth, the Avatar’s job is to serve and protect the world. This cycle’s Avatar is Aang, and he must stop the conquering Fire Nation.
It all seems to have a lot of Asian undertones, but the show is American made. It’s also an excellent one for the kids, especially if you want to laugh about them “bending” the elements.
The music in the show is also very beautiful, if you’re into Chinese instruments and dramatic swells of sound. AKA I don’t know about music at all but it makes my ears all tingly, and I have a Jeremy Zuckerman–the composer–station on Pandora.
You can also watch this on the Nickelodeon website with proof of a cable subscription.
5. Legend of Korra
This is the more adult sequel to Avatar with much darker undertones and an older protagonist. After Aang, the power of the Avatar passes down to Korra, and much like Aang, she must protect the world with the help of her friends. I would recommend adult supervision if a younger kid is watching this because this show covers topics such as depression, gangs, homelessness and even murder-suicide at one point.
Instead of traveling the world like Aang, she mostly stays in Republic City, which is the “melting pot” of the four nations, and she must stop the above-mentioned crime, violence and corruption there.
The relationships are also more advanced here, worrying more about relationships rather than who burped or ate someone’s food. Despite that, the last relationship developed on the show only gets as far as hand-holding, but that probably has to do with its homosexual nature than anything else.
Only the first two seasons of this show are on Amazon Prime. This is important to note because I didn’t realize that until I had binge-watched my way to the third season, and by that time, I was too obsessed to even hesitate before buying the next two. You can also watch this on the Nickelodeon website with proof of a cable subscription.
Who doesn’t like ninjas? This is a classic underdog-makes-big story, with a fledgling ninja named Naruto gaining a team and starting his journey. If you see the headbands with the metal plates on them around, it’s because of this show.
It also has the classic brooding emo antagonist so expect all the tropes. There’s even a girl who learns healing abilities. While this show is pretty predictable, the fight scenes are at least unique. Each ninja learns a special way to fight, called jutsu. There are many different abilities like manipulating sand, taking control of people’s bodies and so on.
Netflix shows two movies and three seasons of the five season show.
Though its popularity has certainly waned, kids all over school used to walk around with these cards to trade, and it was every kid’s dream to come across a holographic Blue Eyes White Dragon.
You may not be able to find the cards around as much, but the show about a young kid named Yugi Moto and his friends dueling with their cards and uncovering ancient Egyptian secrets is on Netflix. Maybe give it a try.
8. Justice League
The Justice League is an organization of superheroes, starting with Wonder Woman, Flash, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Hawk Girl and The Martian Manhunter. “Justice League Unlimited” spreads out to encompass many more esoteric superheroes throughout the comic books.
As superheroes, they work together to protect the planet from powerful threats, much like the Avengers from Marvel. There are plans in place to make this into a movie as well, but that’s further down the road.
9. Teen Titans
When this show got canceled, I couldn’t believe it. With five well-developed and funny team members–even the angsty Raven, who was obviously my favorite–I was always right in front of the TV when it came on.
The Teen Titans are what they sound like: five teens with superhuman abilities who protect Jump City from various dangers, usually of the alien or super villain variety–though they are known to fight the occasional inter-dimensional demon.
Every episode is guaranteed to be hilarious, and it pulls from the extensive history of the Teen Titans comic books, which go way back. I originally disavowed the new “Teen Titans Go!” series, but it is actually pretty funny. I miss the missions and character development though. Neither show is on Netflix or Prime, however.
10. Young Justice
Like many geeks who still watch cartoons while in their 20s, my tastes are stuck in the past. Therefore, I thought it would be good to include at least one show that’s currently on TV. If you miss the–slightly more–mature plot and action of “Teen Titans,” the show “Young Justice” is a good place to fill that hole in your heart.
This is a team of sidekicks who are just trying to make it on their own. Fear not, there are several appearances from the more well-known heroes like Black Canary and Superman, but it does have all the teen drama that “Teen Titans” mostly lacked. It’s got none of the humor though.