Gonzo is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year! In 1992, former Gainax members founded the studio, which has become a mainstay in the industry.
They are known for taking creative risks with their original projects, and for focusing on the action genre. Gonzo has produced over 70 different titles since 1998, and these are their best:
1Full Metal Panic!
The adaptation of Full Metal Panic! was Gonzo’s first big hit, but they only worked on one season. The blend of action, comedy, and romance has been mimicked ever since.
Genre: Action / Comedy / Mecha / Romance
Quick Pitch: Sousuke Sagara is a young member of a covert private military organization called Mithril, and Kaname Chidori is a high school student whose father works for the United Nations. Sousuke is tasked with attending high school in order to protect Kaname, but he is socially inept and treats every situation as a military task.
Last Exile is a high-flying steampunk adventure that loads of fun if you forgive the generic lead characters.
Genre: Adventure / Steampunk
Quick Pitch: The world of Prester is facing ecological devastation due to a war between the countries of Anatoray and Disith. Claus and Lavie are couriers, and their job involves running through the Grand Stream, which is a violent air current that separates the two warring countries. When they accept a job to deliver an orphan girl to a battleship, the duo finds themselves in the middle of a conspiracy.
Chrono Crusade dresses up a stock adventure with a Christian-inspired aesthetic but is fondly remembered for its shocking final arc.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Romance / Tragedy
Quick Pitch: Rosette is a gun-toting nun who exorcises demons with the help of her assistant Chrono. The duo aims to protect innocents from demons while searching for Joshua, who was kidnapped by Aion.
Gonzo’s adaptation of Gantz never reaches the lofty ambitions of the manga, but it’s still a thrilling ride for action fans.
Genre: Action / Horror / Science Fiction / Thriller
Quick Pitch: The twisted world of Gantz takes place in a universe where life doesn’t end with death. Some people take part in a futile death game, which leads to very grisly moments while examining the frail human psyche.
The story follows Kei Kurono, a young man who finds himself participating in this death game. His skills, morals, obedience, and will to survive will be tested.
An adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s landmark Seven Samurai film. The high production values and endearing cast makes it a fun ride, even it can’t live up to Kurosawa’s film.
Genre: Adventure / Chanbara / Steampunk
Quick Pitch: The Kanna Village send their water priestess to recruit samurai to defend them against the mechanized Nobuseri bandits. They can only offer rice to willing samurai, which makes the recruitment a challenge. However, the priestess finds seven samurai willing to defend the village, but it’s to add meaning to their lives.
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is arguable Gonzo’s best work. They reimagined the classic The Count of Monte Cristo novel in an interesting way without dropping the core themes. Oh, and the art is gorgeous!
Genre: Drama / Science Fiction
Quick Pitch: Albert de Morcerf and Franz d’Épinay visit Luna for a festival. While there, they meet the self-made nobleman The Count of Monte Cristo. Taken by The Count’s charm, Albert invites him to Paris. Little did Albert know that this would kick off a series of events.
This popular ninja anime features intense action, unique ninjitsu powers, and tragic romance that will make most fans cry. Basilisk is one of Gonzo’s strongest adaptations.
Genre: Action / Drama / Fantasy / Historical / Romance / Tragedy
Quick Pitch: The heirs of the Kouga and Iga clans, Gennosuke and Oboro, have fallen in love. They hope their future marriage will bring peace to their clans and that mixing their bloodlines will undo the unnatural genetic damages in their kin. However, they are chosen to represent their respective clans in the upcoming battle. As the fight intensifies, the couple realizes they will have to face each other in battle.
The psychosexual themes might be a bit much, but Speed Grapher is a worthwhile mystery with a surprise ending.
Genre: Action / Mystery / Supernatural / Romance
Quick Pitch: Tatsumi is a former war photographer and he is tasked with investigating a fetish club for the ultra-wealthy. He tries to photograph the club’s “goddess,” who is an exploited 15-year-old girl named Kagura. After Tatsumi is caught, he is kissed by Kagura and is granted the ability to destroying anything he photographs. It turns out that Kagura is “worshipped” because her bodily fluids can grant abilities based on a person’s desires, sexual fetish, and obsessions.
Black Cat is a thriller that explores the seedy underworld of assassins as the charismatic Train tries to outrun his past.
Genre: Action / Science Fiction / Thriller
Quick Pitch: Train Heartnet and Sven Vollfied are bounty hunters known as Sweepers. They content living a carefree life collecting bounties, but Train’s past has caught up with him. He was once a deadly assassin known as XIII who worked for an organization called Chronos. Creed, his former partner, is planning on taking over the world with the Apostles of the Stars and he wants Train’s help.
Welcome to the NHK is a mature depiction of depression, social anxiety, and the NEET lifestyle. It’s equally thought-provoking, funny, and relatable.
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Psychological / Romance
Quick Pitch: College dropout Tatsuhiro Satou has been a hikikomori for nearly four years and he has come to believe many conspiracy theories. There is one theory that Tatsuhiro strongly believes in – an organization called the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai is responsible for spreading hikikomori culture and ruining his life.
Afro Samurai is a fast-paced action series that is arguably the first big international collaboration. Gonzo, actor Samuel L. Jackson, and rapper RZA teamed up to produce the anime.
Genre: Action / Adventure
Episodes: 5 +1 Movie
Quick Pitch: In a feudal, yet futuristic Japan, a legend says the owner of the Number 1 headband is the fiercest warrior with godlike powers. Only the Number 2 headband can challenge the Number 1, but anyone can challenge the Number 2.
Afro is the current Number 2 and travels the road for revenge on Justice, who is the man that killed Afro’s father – the previous Number 1.
Romeo x Juliet is another great reimagining from Gonzo. The anime injects more adventure and fleshes the doomed-couples’ personalities.
Genre: Drama / Fantasy / Romance / Tragedy
Quick Pitch: On the floating island of Neo Verona, the Montague family leads a deadly coup against the Capulet family. 14 years later, Juliet is the sole surviving member of the Capulet family, and fights against the Montague as a masked vigilante named “Red Whirlwind.” Her life changes after meeting Romeo, a kind prince of the Montague family. However, seeds of retribution and violence are in motion.
Bokurano is one of the most thought-provoking and depressing works from Gonzo’s catalogue.
Genre: Drama / Mecha / Thriller
Quick pitch: During summer camp, 15 children discover a network of computers and electrical equipment hidden inside a grotto. The owner of this equipment is Kokopelli and claims to be a programmer working on a new game, which involves a giant robot defending Earth against 15 alien invasions. Kokopelli asks the children if they would like to test the game. All but one child agree and sign a contract, not knowing that they are about to enter a dark world.
14My Bride is a Mermaid
My Bride is a Mermaid adds comedic twists to the harem genre, and its story even subverts expectations.
Genre: Harem / Romantic Comedy
Episodes: 26 + 2 OVAs
Quick Pitch: Michishio accidentally falls into the sea and is saved by a mermaid. However, she comes from a mermaid yakuza family. According to their law, either Michishio or the mermaid must die…unless they partake in an awkward marriage.
Seiyu’s Life! is a funny and insightful depiction of the voice acting industry. Various real-life voice actors portray themselves in various scenes, adding authenticity to the vignettes.
Genre: Comedy / Slice of Life
Episodes: 13 + 1 OVA
What’s it about: Futaba, Ichigo, and Rin are all rookies in the voice acting industry. While the three go through their own trials of carving out a career, they take the time to host a web radio show to talk about voice acting.
What is your favorite Gonzo anime?