Known for their twisted, bizarre sci-fi worlds and breathtaking photorealistic animation, MAPPA has been taking the world by storm, swiftly climbing the ranks and becoming one of the most popular anime studios of the 2010s. If you’re a fan of titles like Dororo and Attack on Titan: The Final Season, here are five other projects from the MAPPA catalog to add to your watch list.
Where to watch: Prime Video
Banana Fish takes you smack dab into the gritty streets of NYC, running wild with drugs, gang wars, and shootouts. Here we meet Ash Lynx: a rebellious teen whose wit and charm unite gang members from all walks of life, raising him to leader status at the tender age of 17. When Ash gets his hands on a top-secret narcotic named Banana Fish, it incites a war with the ruthless mafia don Dino, leaving blood and destruction in the streets as Dino tries everything in his power to recover it.
Instead of the goofy gags and silly tropes that anime is known for, Banana Fish delivers dramatic realism with a cinematic story and complex characters that make its cat-and-mouse story of war and crime believable. In addition to its photorealistic cast and setting, Banana Fish is praised for its magnificent pacing with seemingly no moments wasted. Every shot and every frame is used with intention and is illustrated to keep the pace constantly moving. The transitions between each episode are so smooth, watching the next episode just feels natural.
Where to watch: Netflix
This Netflix original takes you deep into the addictive side of gambling and the many ways it manifests itself. At the prestigious Hyakkaou Private Academy, gambling is all the rage. In a school where money is everything, the more debt you accumulate the worse your social status, and the poorest students are subjected to endless hazing and torment. That is until a mysterious transfer student arrives, whose compulsive gambling habits turn the student body on its head, shaking up the ranks and disrupting the world order. Using her hidden talents, Yumeko Jabami challenges the student council — an elitist troupe of the school’s best gamblers — to disrupt the school’s hierarchy and overthrow the sadistic student council president.
In Kakegurui, what seems like a game of luck and chance is actually psychological warfare challenging the player’s wits and tactical skills in games where the best deceiver wins. Kakegurui’s stylish, flirty tone is offset by horror and chaos with an ensemble of bizarre characters that make this show a popular guilty pleasure.
Jujutsu Kaisen takes us to a bizarre world where evil spirits roam the Earth corrupting and killing unsuspecting humans. It follows the story of Yuji Itadori, a high school prodigy oozing with unlocked potential both physically and paranormally. His untapped potential proves useful to the jujutsu sorcerers, a secret squad of exorcists who use their elite combat skills and supernatural abilities to expel cursed spirits. During an exorcism gone awry, Itadori consumes a cursed heirloom, which possesses him with the soul of a powerful demon. Although sharing a body with a demon has life-threatening consequences, it also proves useful to his power and strength, landing Itadori smack dab on the fast track to becoming a jujutsu sorcerer.
Jujutsu Kaisen’s heart-pounding action sequences are so fluid and stylized, you’ll feel like you’re watching a live-action martial arts movie. Its style, humor, and memorable cast catapulted the show’s success, making it one of the most influential anime of our time. In 2021, it held the record for the highest-grossing film in Japan, making Jujutsu Kaisen one of the most successful titles out of Studio Mappa’s vault.
The God of High School
Where to watch: Crunchyroll
If you’re a sucker for awe-inspiring, hard-hitting action, you have to check out The God of High School. The combined powers of 2D animation and motion capture technology helped set this shonen apart with high-flying action sequences that bring the power and intensity of martial arts tournaments to life. GoHS centers around a high school tournament of power where the best fighter gets to have any wish they want granted. With the prospects of having their deepest desires brought to life, the tournament pits the best high school fighters in Korea against one another in one of the most stylized anime of our generation.
Although some fans say the series felt rushed — condensing hundreds of webtoon chapters into a 13-episode series — God of High School manages to deliver a heartfelt, high-flying action series whose loveable characters and addictive soundtrack will leave you begging for a Season 2.
Where to watch: Crunchyroll
Chainsaw Man takes us to a supernatural world where hideous blood-thirsty devils roam the earth, posing an imminent threat to the human race. This creates a demand for devil-hunting services, which our hero Denji uses as a means to pay off his lifelong debt to the Yakuza. Denji makes a living hunting devils in hopes of buying back his freedom and living a normal life. However, his dreams are cut short when a near-death experience causes him to fuse with his devil companion Pochita, turning him into the murderous devil-hunting metal-head Chainsaw Man. Together, with the help of his colleagues in the Public Safety sector, Chainsaw Man fights to keep the streets of Tokyo devil free.
Chainsaw Man’s stunning animation and eccentric troupe of characters make the show addictively fascinating to watch. Underneath its twisted, bizarre world lies a coming-of-age underdog story that seldom takes itself seriously. Between the cheeky dialogue and the graphic bloodshed and gore, Chainsaw Man managed to leave its mark on fans, quickly becoming one of the most popular titles of 2022.
With the acquisition of Lazarus, the latest sci-fi series from Shinichirou Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), it won’t be long before MAPPA produces another project that’ll wow fans and shake up the anime industry. In the meantime, you can catch shows like Jujutsu Kaisen and Chainsaw Man on Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Prime Video. What’s your favorite anime from the MAPPA Studio? Let us know on social media @blackgirlnerds.
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Kaillaby is a writer from The Bronx with infectious high energy and a passion for geek culture. She loves connecting with Blerds like herself and hopes to create her own cartoon someday.