Twelve Animated Series You Should Absolutely Watch Now That There’s Time

Welcome to Time Enough at Last: The Home Edition, when we all discover what our true heart’s desire is when we’re stuck with nothing much else to do. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that not many of us are eager to be alphabetizing our book collections, dusting the upper shelves, or cleaning out the back of the fridge like we promised three months ago (sorry, B).

In my case, top priority has been given to the arduous task of sitting around and watching cartoons. And yes, while that can be as infantile as it sounds—as the bowl of Cap’n Crunch next to me attests—it’s also a fact that animated series, even the ones purportedly aimed at kids, have grown more nuanced and sophisticated since the days of Yogi Bear, Transformers, and Smurfs (or whatever you gazed goggle-eyed at from the living room carpet when you were a kid). And adult stuff? No surprise, everything’s on the table there (sometimes literally).

You may have been hearing about these shows; you may have made a note in the back of your mind to check some of them out one day, when you had more time. Well, guess what, Chuck-o? That day has come. I’ve whipped up a list of animated series that are worth devoting an evening, or a day, or several, to. Some of these are well-regarded shows that for one reason or the other fail to make people’s must-watch lists, others are more esoteric offerings that really deserve a look. (So, yeah, no established hits like Rick and Morty, Venture Bros, or Bojack Horseman—you don’t need me to tell you about that stuff, anyway.) What they all offer is episode after episode of compulsive viewing, or for at least as long as your toilet paper holds up…

(Note: Going through the list again, I notice there’s a lot of gender fluidity running through these shows, depicted and embraced in interesting ways. What can I say? We live in truly exciting times.)

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Over the Garden Wall (2014)

Triangulating between Disney’s Silly Symphonies, early Fleischer Brothers, and Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, this ten-episode limited series tells the tale of two brothers: older, reserved Wirt (voiced by Elijah Wood); and younger, impetuous Greg (Collin Dean) as they try to find their way home through an enchanted wood. There’s a schoolhouse full of animals, a riverboat full of frogs, a talking horse (“Let’s steal!” is some of his sage advice), and Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey), a bluebird with her own agenda. And music, lots and lots of original—but period-sounding—music, courtesy of composers The Blasting Company (aka Eddika Organista and Harlan Silverman).

Garden Wall creator Patrick McHale somehow manages to replicate a vintage feel—the settings are beautifully autumnal; vignetting frequently opens and closes scenes; and Wirt and Greg are garbed in 19th century silliness, the former with his conical hat and Civil War-era cloak, the latter with headgear that’s simply an overturned teapot—while giving the overall series a contemporary outlook and genuine emotional gravity. It’s no big deal to do the nostalgia bit—cartoonists as a whole seem to long for the days when rubber-limbed characters ruled the screens—but to do that and make it all feel original, funny, and moving is quite the achievement.

SAMPLER EP: S01E08: “Babes in the Wood”—Lost in the woods after numerous adventures, the brothers bed down under a tree and Greg dreams himself into a full-on Fleischer Brothers fantasy world, unaware of the danger that Wirt, in his despair, is succumbing to. This sets up the final two episodes of the series, and leads into the next episode’s reveal of how the brothers landed in the woods to begin with (and why Greg is wearing that teapot).

 

Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010 – 2013)

Okay, pick your jaws up off the floor. Yes, the Scooby Doo franchise as a whole has justly earned infamy for its cookie-cutter plots (the original series seemed to be a recycling of the same script week after week, with just the proper nouns swapped out) and indifferent animation—not quite Hannah-Barbera at its Saturday morning laziest, but close. (The live-action movies didn’t help.) Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated remedies all that with the stepped-up quality of contemporary, Warners animation—every ep has at least one stand-out action sequence; some out-of-left-field fillips (including a seventies-style DJ named Angel Dynamite voiced by Vivica A. Fox), secondary characters whose names reference famous authors, and a mystery centered around the Russian myth of Baba Yaga, complete with a full-size, chicken-legged house. Plus there’s the self-aware parody—Freddie’s become monomaniacally trap-obsessed, the series is set in a town that resents the teen debunkers’ intrusions because they mess with the tourist-trap’s reputation as the “most hauntedest place on Earth,” and one ep takes place at a “Mystery Solvers” competition that brings together a fair portion of the clones that followed in Scooby Doo’s footsteps.

Moreover, series creators Mitch Watson, Spike Brandt, and Tony Cervone have managed to bring a bit more substance to the mystery solving quintet, with Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, ported in from the live action features) and Velma (Mindy Cohn) struggling with how to break their relationship (yes, they’re dating now) to Scooby (Frank Welker), while Fred (Welker again) discovers he’s actually the orphaned son of two of the original Mystery Incorporated members who vanished under mysterious circumstances. With an impressive lineup of guest voices—including Lewis Black as the enigmatic mastermind Mister E, and Udo Kier as the original Mystery Incorporated’s mascot, the sinister parrot Professor Pericles—Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated is the series for those of us who watched the original show as kids, then happily walked away from it at the first bloom of adulthood (and also for the two of you who actually liked it).

SAMPLER EP: S01E12: “The Shrieking Madness”—Author Harlan Ellison guest-voices in the role he was born to play: Harlan Ellison, ragging on fans and signing his latest collection, My Fiction is Better (give the man credit, he could take a dig as well as give ‘em). He becomes involved in a mystery where a college campus is plagued by a Cthulhu-like apparition inspired by the works of resident professor H.P. (ahem) Hatecraft. It’s gothic floridness vs. New Wave impertinence, and the winners are any viewers with a working knowledge of genre literature.

 

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995 – 1996)

Japanese anime is not wanting for tales of teen boys piloting giant robots, but within this crowded field, Neon Genesis Evangelion stands as both pinnacle and deconstruction of the genre. That’s not too surprising given its birthplace, the iconoclastic studio Gainax, known previously for the alt-universe Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, in which the titular space program is a catchall for aimless slackers, and the subsequent FLCL, another coming-of-age boy-and-robot tale that redefines the term “anarchy.”

There’s no little anarchy in Evangelion itself, with its pervasive religious iconography, disturbingly graphic battles between the robot Evas and invading “angels”—alien beings whose forms range from giant squids to geometric shapes—and a finale so outrageous (in the sense that it provoked universal outrage), that it’s been redone several times. What makes the series so compelling, though, is how director Hideaki Anno gets under the tormented skin of its protagonist, Shinji Ikari, a fourteen-year-old seeking the approval of his father, who just so happens to head up the Eva program and is indifferent to his son beyond his efficacy as a pilot. Portraying a world where teens strive to be more than just cannon fodder in an incomprehensible war, Neon Genesis Evangelion grows beyond the simple binaries of good guys and bad guys, to become a dark—frequently terrifying—and enigmatic exploration of spiritual loss and redemption.

[NOTE: The series has gone through several rounds of feature remakes and retoolings, the most recent being a tetralogy called Rebuild of Evangelion. Netflix has the original series.]

SAMPLER EP: S01E03: “The Silent Phone”—Traumatized by his initial experiences in his Eva, Shinji attends his first day of school, where he’s idolized by some classmates and vilified (i.e. gets the shit kicked out of him) by others. It doesn’t help matters when, through a series of mishaps, a couple of said classmates wind up in the cockpit with Shinji during an angel attack, and are able to witness the toll that combat takes on the boy. Only three episodes in, and man, things are getting dark.

 

Big Mouth (2017 – ongoing)

For some reason, Netflix thought it would be a good idea to put a series about adolescents going through the trials of puberty in the hands of Nick Kroll (along with Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett). It was a good call, obviously, but could anyone have imagined that the result would be a show where the confusion and pleasures of stepping over the threshold into adulthood are portrayed with wit and empathy, while at the same time literalizing the kids’ trials through Maury, a foul-mouthed “hormone monster” (Kroll) brandishing a handful of furry, floppy, autonomous penises; Connie, Maury’s female counterpart (Maya Rudolph), a flirtatious sensualist with a endearing way of saying “bubble bath;” an all-smothering Depression Kitty (Jean Smart); and a malevolent Shame Wizard (David Thewlis)? Plus, rather randomly, the ghost of Duke Ellington (who also, for some reason, gets his own, autobiographical episode).

And yet, for all the weird, comedic tangents—fourth walls get broken, HBO shows are frequently called out—Big Mouth gets much right about growing up, including how the experience is different for each person (to the point where Nick [voiced by Kroll], a late-bloomer wondering about his own sexuality, receives Connie as his hormone monster). Chalk it up to trying to create a show that adults can relate to while being aware that actual adolescents are logging in to get some sort of handle on what’s going on with their bodies and brains. Whatever the motivations, Big Mouth delivers the real through all the raunchiness.

SAMPLER EP: S01E05: “Girls are Horny Too”—A steamy novel gets all the female students at school (and quite of few of their mothers) fantasizing about forbidden romance with a Spaniard (magically turned into a horse), while the boys try to puzzle out the mystery of female sexuality. Features both a B-plot in which Andrew’s bickering parents (Richard Kind and Paula Pell) reignite their sex lives (despite repeated servings of bad scallops), and arguably the most adorable conversation a girl will ever have with her vagina.

 

Metalocalypse (2006 – 2012)

[Please note that the video above features flashing/strobe light effects, which may be triggering to viewers with certain health conditions and visual sensitivities.]

In creators Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha’s reimagining of reality, a death metal band, Dethklok, is the world’s fifth largest economy. Fans happily sign accidental death waivers to attend their concerts (a good thing, too, since mortality rates regularly start in the scores and go up from there), record companies willingly fork over unconscionable sums for the artists’ most improbable notions (including an album performed on a Russian submarine and recorded, somehow, on water), and their every move is tracked by an Illuminati-like Tribunal, for fear (or perhaps in hopes, it’s not clear) that they will provoke the prophesied Metalocalypse.

In chronicling the adventures of five entitled, chuckle-headed, but admittedly talented oafs (actual masters of metal back up Small’s vocals, as well voicing secondary characters), Small and Blacha recreate a metalhead’s most passionate wet dream, with an amazing Nordic/Goth design sense and an incredible amount of gore. The eleven minute episodes play more like sketches than full-blown stories, while an attempt to expand the series to a full 22 minutes in its last season (save for a series-closing rock opera that clocks in at 47 minutes) ironically leads to some of the series’ weaker eps. Nevertheless, love for the hyperbolic drama of metal seeps through every second of the series, strong enough to beguile even those not especially enraptured by the genre (including yours truly).

[NOTE: In the spirit of social distancing, Adult Swim has made the entire series available for free on their website and app.]

SAMPLER EP: S01E04: “Dethtroll”—What would a series about a death metal band be without the occasional sortie to the Nordic countries? Dethklok returns to Finland to apologize for the carnage meted out in their previous tour, only to inflict more damage by summoning a towering lake troll. The troll’s visceral death through the accidental ingestion of a hideously designed Dethklok-branded cellphone (never let your band work on marketing while drunk!) makes a virtue of the inherent awkwardness of the show’s Flash animation.

 

Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)

I’m going to be honest, here: If you don’t like Japanese anime, you’ll absolutely despise Revolutionary Girl Utena, a show so deeply immersed in the genre’s traits that its characters should be featured on the country’s flag. But if you do appreciate anime—and particularly if your exposure to it is primarily through the shonen (young boys) side of the genre, which is what is mostly featured on the likes of Toonami and etc.—then this walk on the shoujo (young girls) side will be a revelation. The show is, in fact, exceedingly shoujo, with eyes the size of dinner plates, girls who are pretty and boys who are even prettier, and lots of coy homoeroticism (but uncommonly female-skewed).

Yet director Kunihiko Ikuhara, apparently not satisfied with merely hewing to standards for the genre, manages to amp everything up to a delirious degree. The female protagonist, Utena, attends school dressed as a prince, excels in every competitive sport, and is crushed on by most of the institution’s female population. Most episodes revolve around her conflicts with the school’s entitled student council, whose members repeatedly challenge her to duels in a surreal, aerial stadium for the hand of Anthy, a shy, black student who’s also the Rose Bride, prophesied to grant her “fiancé” the power to “bring the world revolution”—whatever the hell that means—and whose body conceals a magical sword. Um… Believe me, I’ve only scratched the surface, there (I haven’t even gotten to the implied, incestuous relationship between brother and sister council members.) Suffused with an intense sensuality and salted throughout with great songs by composer J.A. Seazer, Revolutionary Girl Utena twists the whole notion of “girl power” into new and mind-blowing shapes. If you have the fortitude to roll with it, it’s a solid rush. (And for those of you getting itchy over the notion of a black character being treated as a possession by the competing sides, be it known that Utena treats Anthy as friend and equal, and the sequences where Anthy swoons into Utena’s arms to yield up her sword have a magical romanticism that transcends race.)

SAMPLER EP: S01E01: “The Rose Bride”—Look, this show is so out-there that it’s probably best you just start at the beginning. You’ll know soon enough if you want to continue.

 

The Amazing World of Gumball (2011 – 2019)

It’s not that hard to find animated shows about kids and their travails at school and home. Gumball is different. To start, the titular Amazing World is not shy about anthropomorphizing anything that happens to strike creator Ben Bocquelet and director Mic Graves’ fancy. Gumball Watterson and his mother Nicole are cats. Father Richard and sister Anais are bunnies. Adopted brother Darwin is a fish (with legs—get it?). Their classmates include a potato, a Tyrannosaurus rex (in hallway-crowding scale), a ghost, a robot, a balloon, and a cactus (the latter two, in a Romeo and Juliet twist, are boyfriend and girlfriend). Their teacher is a monkey who bears a striking resemblance to the default model in the open-source Blender animation program. It sounds like chaos; weirdly, Bocquelet and Graves make it work, an achievement even more impressive since the production is an admixture of media styles, incorporating 2D and 3D animation, puppetry, stop-motion, and live action.

But what really separates The Amazing World of Gumball from the pack is its wanton disregard for its putative audience. Yes, it’s an old saw that cartoon creators write more to amuse themselves than their viewers, but how to explain an exchange in which Darwin angrily demands to know where Gumball is going, and the boy snaps back, “I’m going to a brony convention in Liechtenstein!” Or the episode where the elder members of the Watterson family, including Richard, his estranged father, his mother, and his mother’s new boyfriend attempt to gain control over each other through interweaving adoptions and marriages? Or the episode where Richard dresses up like Rue McClanahan so he can hang out with The Golden Girls (complete with laugh track)?(!(?!)) Even the more traditional episodes manage to get to their destinations via off-road routes. The Amazing World of Gumball’s heart is all-embracingly big—one episode includes a song whose key lyric is, “Everybody is weird, like you and me”—but its anarchic spirit keeps things, well, amazing.

[NOTE: The seasonal packages available on-demand are, to be blunt, pricey, but Cartoon Network keeps a healthy supply of episodes available for free on demand and through their app.]

SAMPLER EP: S04E18: “The Wicked”—In an inversion of the typical everybody-has-some-good-in-them episode, Gumball and Darwin attempt to find the humanity in secondary character Mrs. Robinson, a Muppet-like figure who regularly delights in, and frequently acts as the engine for, the suffering of others. To their horror, they find there’s actually no bottom to the woman’s well of evil. It ends with a distraught Darwin asking whether there’s any justice in the universe, and the universe responding with swift, and surprisingly violent, karmic retribution upon the woman.

 

Paranoia Agent (2004)

I’d noted in another article that anime director Satoshi Kon had created four feature films before his untimely passing. Let me elaborate: Four feature films, and one bugfuck crazy TV series. Paranoia Agent focuses on an interweaving cast of protagonists—a meek designer of franchiseable characters, a pair of police detectives, a scumbag reporter, an animation staff member racing a deadline, etc.—and their interactions with Li’l Slugger (in the English translation)/Shonen Bat (in Japanese), a malevolently grinning child on golden skates who manifests to people in moments of stress and beats them with a bat bent like a dog’s leg (that last detail is significant).

More a quasi-anthology than a regular series (one episode even brings in guest directors to portray how the myth of Li’l Slugger morphs as his urban legend spreads), Paranoia Agent allowed Kon to take tropes he employed in his feature films—characters being confronted by their doppelgangers, listeners entering and interacting with the others’ reminiscences—and create a deliciously dark survey of humanity on the edge. With one of the most disconcerting opening title sequences in all of television, the show breaks all preconceptions of what anime is, and, for that matter, how to tell a story that both creeps you out and makes you laugh.

SAMPLER EP: S01E08: “Happy Family Planning”—The show tangents off from its main themes to tell the tale of a senior, a teen, and a child who get together to fulfill an internet suicide pact, with each attempt winding up a dismal failure. Li’l Slugger does show up at the end, but is so terrified by the trio that he flees without granting their wish for a skull-crushing demise ([SPOILER:] For good reason: The trio’s first attempt was actually successful, and they’ve been ghosts all along. [END SPOILER]). One shouldn’t be using terms like “delightful” and “heartwarming” to describe comedy this black, but this is a delightfully heartwarming tale, in its own bizarre way.

 

Gravity Falls (2012 – 2016)

An X-Files for the younger set, Gravity Falls follows a brother and sister, serious Dipper (Jason Ritter) and ebullient Mabel (Kristen Schaal), as they spend a summer with their “Grunkle” (great uncle) Stan (series creator Alex Hirsch), in his tourist trap/gift shop, located in the bucolic, titular Oregon town. Almost immediately, Dipper stumbles upon a mysterious journal documenting the unnamed writer’s encounters with magic spells and mythological creatures. And much as huckster Stan denies the reality of the paranormal, and Mabel wants merely to have a fun summer with her new friends, the likes of gnomes, zombies, and ultimately a malevolent, Illuminati-eyed entity named Bill Cipher (Hirsch) keep intervening. And besides all that, the townies are just plain weird.

True to the conspiracy theory ethos of the show, Hirsch larded Gravity Falls with backwards maskings and secret codes—plus a few references to friend Justin Roiland’s Rick and Morty—and admirably restricted the series to two seasons (that spanned four years), and one, wacky summer. But the big draw of Gravity Falls is the relationship between Dipper and Mabel. Loving and supportive, the two siblings bring a warm, emotional underpinning to all the crazy goings-on, making Gravity Falls a genuinely family-friendly experience, one that treats that term as more than just a marketing category.

SAMPLER EP: S01E09: “The Time Traveler’s Pig”—On the one hand, Dipper could use the machine he stole from a bumbling time traveler to rectify his ruinous date with crush Wendy at Grunkle Stan’s fair. On the other, doing so could lose Mabel her one opportunity to win her beloved pig (and new series regular) Waddles. Justin Roiland makes his debut as time-traveler Blendin Blandin—quickly glimpsed in previous episodes – but never mind that, check out Time Baby!

 

Steven Universe (2013 – 2020)

Music is deeply woven into the DNA of Steven Universe. Credit that to series creator Rebecca Sugar, who previously brought her facility for having characters express their thoughts and feelings lyrically to Adventure Time. Not every episode features a song, but the art is ever present in the way the show’s alien characters, the Crystal Gems, are able to fuse forms through dance, in the fact that Steven’s human father, Greg (Tom Scharpling) is a former rock musician and that a healthy portion of plots take place around concerts and celebrations. And that’s way before we get to the full-on episodes structured as musicals, including a feature film that bridges this series to the recently completed Steven Universe Future.

But beyond all the music, Steven Universe may be the most subversive kids show on television. Born from the relationship between the human Greg and a powerful Crystal Gem, Rose Quartz (Susan Egan), Steven (Zach Callison) lives in a seaside home overseen by a massive temple, with a blended family of Gems: the proper Pearl (Deedee Magno Hall); the cool but loving Garnet (Estelle); and the raunchy, big-sisterish Amethyst (Michaela Dietz). Gender barriers are broken left and right: Steven himself is optimistic and nurturing, and happily cross-dresses when the situation calls for it; the Gems are fierce warriors while Steven’s girlfriend, Connie (Grace Rolek), is training to join the warrior ranks herself; and there are numerous same-sex relationships, perhaps most prominently Pearl’s unrequited love for the vanished Rose Quartz.

As the episodes progress, the series morphs from the light and silly—one early ep is all about Steven turning his fingers into cats—to the full-on dramatic, with significant character growth for all involved, be they friend or adversary. Generous of spirit, Steven Universe redefines the action fantasy genre into something that can accommodate deeply felt emotion, and the field is all the better for it.

SAMPLER EP: S01E12: “Giant Woman”—Steven discovers that Crystal Gems can join forms to create larger, more powerful beings and, accompanying Pearl and Amethyst on a mission to retrieve a magical beetle, urges them to merge into the formidable, four-armed Opal. This is the episode that introduced the concept of fusion into the series—something that would become a key element in the show’s subtext—but the highlight of the ep is a song Steven sings expressing his simple desire that his surrogate family form “a giant woman.” As an expression of empowerment, that’s pretty damn sweet.

 

Cowboy Bebop (1998 – 2000)

More music, more blended families, more barrier breaking. A multi-culti, neo-noir-space-western, Cowboy Bebop follows the adventures of the crew of good ship Bebop—bounty hunter Spike Spiegel (voiced in the American dub by Steve Blum); his female counterpart Faye Valentine (Wendee Lee); pilot and ex-cop Jet Black (Beau Billingslea); idiosyncratic, adolescent hacker Edward (Melissa Fahn); and the data dog (it’s never explained what that is), Ein. In a future where travel within the solar system is facilitated through a series of astral gates—and where the explosion of one gate has rendered the Earth virtually uninhabitable—the team travels to backwater towns and orbiting casinos in search of wanted criminals. Sometimes (rarely), they even succeed.

On top of well-choreographed fight and chase sequences and beautifully designed technology, director Shinichirō Watanabe—aided by the well-regarded animation studio Sunrise—turns his intrastellar playing ground into a vibrant, diverse spacescape, with the destruction of Earth eradicating borders and allowing all races, faiths, and cultures to intermingle into one, not-always-so-harmonious whole (it is an action series, after all). He also manages to bring a bit of depth to his spacefaring team, with their backstories—and the reasons why they’ve embraced their rootless calling—revealed throughout the series’ running length. And he had the smarts to recruit Yoko Kanno as composer. Her soundtrack—largely jazz and blues-related, but branching into genres as varied as rock and country & western when needed—energizes the entire series, as well as providing yet another indelible opening title sequence.

SAMPLER EP: S01E02: “Stray Dog Strut”—Before Faye and Ed join the crew, Ein logs on. Not willingly—he’s the booty of notorious pet kidnapper Abdul Hakim, and the consolation prize when Spike’s pursuit of the criminal doesn’t go quite as planned. Watanabe keeps the animal theme running throughout this episode set on Mars (the town has literal canals running through it!), with a hyper-sensitive pet shop owner sporting a live turtle on her head, an amazingly prescient, fortune-telling bird, and a stampede of canines after Ein’s actual owners make the mistake of activating an ill-advised super-dog-whistle. In the end, nobody wins—but, hey, that’s why we love these guys.

 

Tuca & Bertie (2019)

In the pantheon of series unjustly cancelled in their first season, Tuca & Bertie ranks right up there with Firefly and Wonderfalls. Created by people previously responsible for Bojack Horseman—prime among them series creator Lisa Hanawalt—the show focuses on shy, restrained songbird Bertie (Ali Wong) and vibrant toucan and former-roommate Tuca (Tiffany Haddish), who moves out of their apartment—to one in the unconscionably distant realms of the floor right above (as Tuca sees it)—when Bertie’s boyfriend, architect and robin Speckle (Steven Yeun) moves in. Like Bojack Horseman, there’s no shortage of animal-themed sight gags. Unlike Bojack, this is a fully anthropomorphized—and largely avian—universe, with nary a human in sight.

Also unlike Bojack Horseman, neither Tuca nor Bertie are nigh irredeemable, yet charismatic, anti-heroes—instead they’re just two thirty-something birds still trying to find their way in the world, and somehow making it work despite the roadblocks thrown their way. It’s as if Broad City had been translated to animation and somehow, ironically enough, wound up less cartoonish. It’s a pity the series was cancelled before the protagonists were able to complete their journeys. Then again, Family Guy got uncancelled after its ratings exploded on Adult Swim. Hmmmmm… (It’s on Netflix. Go there now!)

SAMPLER EP: S01E05: “Plumage”—It’s two steps forward and one step back for both birds in a pivotal episode. Newly sober Tuca visits her wealthy aunt (Jenifer Lewis) for the monthly check that supports her, but can no longer countenance the abuse the increasingly soused old biddy throws her way, particularly when the invective starts focusing on her mother. Bertie, meanwhile, tries to take a few, bold steps in her life, but her new dress draws too much attention on the street, she can’t quite sync into the vibes of her empowerment meeting, and her first session as apprentice with famed baker Pastry Pete (Reggie Watts) so alternates between psychic abuse and uninvited physical contact that the conflicted bird has to flee to the bathroom where, shockingly, she begins to masturbate. You don’t typically expect to see such outcomes in a bouncy, brightly colored cartoon, but the fact that Hanawalt & Co. went there demonstrates how deeply and viscerally they wanted to explore the nature of these characters.

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Look, even if you work your way through all the series above, there’s a chance we’ll still be waiting out the crisis. And I know you know of animated series equally marathon-worthy, if not more so, than the ones I cited. So why don’t you kill some more time and hit the comments section below, and let us know what you recommend—we’re all starving for entertainment!

Dan Persons has been knocking about the genre media beat for, oh, a good handful of years, now. He’s presently house critic for the radio show Hour of the Wolf on WBAI 99.5FM in New York, and previously was editor of Cinefantastique and Animefantastique, as well as producer of news updates for The Monster Channel. He is also founder of Anime Philadelphia, a program to encourage theatrical screenings of Japanese animation. And you should taste his One Alarm Chili! Wow!

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