|From top left, clockwise: Boogiepop Phantom, ARIA The ANIMATION, Emma: A Victorian Romance, Dirty Pair|
"Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month" has showcased a number of titles over the past 3+ years, and with the proliferation and growing importance of digital distribution, that amount continues to increase more and more. There are a lot of good titles out there for many discerning tastes, so for this month's pick(s), I'll be doing something a little different, and rather than recommending a single series, I'll be recommending all of the titles from one particular company that not only exemplifies this, but targets a number of entries that might have gone unnoticed or unlicensed, otherwise. And that company is Nozomi Ent.
Nozomi Ent., the licensing division of top online anime retailer Right Stuf, has been a champion of niche titles, and over the years, they have amassed a relatively small (compared to other companies), but rich library of noteworthy anime. They've done a great job at presenting the shows and making them available when other R1 distributors might be too wary to release them, due to varying factors, such as their age, audience reach, or content. None of that diminishes their quality or value, however, and Nozomi Ent. has been gracious enough to post a few of them onto their YouTube channel. Mostly, they rotate various series out via a couple of episodes at a time (a la traditional VOD), but they do leave the first two episodes up for sampling purposes. I have a lot of appreciation for them and this is something that I wanted to do for a good while, so for this month's Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month, we'll be focusing on the anime titles residing on Nozomi Ent.'s YouTube page!
There is virtually something everyone there, so maybe you'll find something that will appeal to you (or something worth going off the beaten path for…):
Like slice-of-life shows? The kind of show that you can kick back and relax to? Or a different kind of sci-fi show? Or even perhaps Venice and exotic locales, in general? Then ARIA is right up your alley.
An action hound? Purveyor of classic anime, or a fan of Sunrise's non-mecha-related shows? Then how about one of the pioneers of the "girls with guns" genre, Dirty Pair?
Or if mecha is your thing (particularly with intellectual flourishes), then how about Sunrise's lauded Garasaki? Or Xebec's gorgeous-looking The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye?
But perhaps "real robots" aren't your thing. If so, there is the fanciful, slice-of-life type in Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (created by Nadesico director Tatsuo Sato, and as a recent acquisition by the company, that anime, too, will likely show up on their YT channel in the future…). And if giant robots, in general, aren't your thing--but comedy is--then you might be attracted to the craziness (and ecchiness) of pre-TYPE-MOON fav ufotable's Ninja Nonsense, the space-based adventures of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, or the coming-of-age tales of Boys Be….
Or maybe your tastes lean more towards the dramatic. If so, there is the supernatural business to be found in Rental Magica, the adolescent romance in the Hideaki Anno-directed His and Her Circumstances (in that distinctive post-Evangelion style of his), and the low-key, music-centric PIANO: The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart. And lest I forget about the great moody horror series, Boogiepop Phantom or the much-loved period piece Emma: A Victorian Romance, either…
Nozomi's YouTube channel also has a handful of "alternative romance" titles there for the yaoi/yuri lovers in mind, and while I don't usually recommend those type of shows (not really my thing or expertise), one of them, Antique Bakery (guess the setting…), was a 2008 noitaminA show and what I saw of the shoujo-ai-ish all-girl academy melodrama of Maria Watches Over Us was, admittedly, pretty good…
In addition to all of these, the first two episodes of Revolutionary Girl Utena, which was previously recommended last November, are still up for your perusal. Also, while the first two episodes of the well-reviewed Sound of the Sky/SO-RA-NO-WO-TO/Sora no Oto are up on YouTube, too, the entire series was (and continues to be) offered on Crunchyroll, as well, as first posted by one of its producers before Nozomi licensed it. And if you can't get enough of His and Her Circumstances, many more episodes can be found on GONG's YouTube channel and in full at Hulu (in Japanese with English subtitles).
Most of the shows offered on Nozomi Ent.'s YouTube channel are either dubbed in English or in Japanese with English subtitles (if the anime in question was ever released with a dub, that version will likely be the one streamed). Also, as episodes are available for a certain time before being rotated out, Nozomi Ent. has been kind enough to issue a schedule of which ones are currently up and when they expire ((D) = Dub, (S) = Sub). And if you happen to like any of the series highlighted here, they are all--of course--available at RightStuf.com. ;)
And so, happy viewings!