It s not easy to explain the premise of Netflix s newest epic fantasy series, Shadow and Bone, to a newcomer. After all, it s based on not one but two different book series set in a sprawling fictional universe with complex narratives and different timelines. But we asked the stars and co-creator of the series, which premieres April 23, to try. It s a fantasy show — it has the Harry Potter elements, it has the Game of Thrones elements, it has Lord of the Rings elements, it has elements of Star Wars, star Archie Renaux said. But really at its core, I think it s a coming-of-age story about a girl discovering she has this power that could really unite her country, which has been divided in two by this expansive, massive darkness called the Shadow Fold. Honestly, it s a pretty great elevator pitch for the eight-episode drama, which is based on Leigh Bardugo s Shadow and Bone/Grishaverse trilogy and its companion duology, Six of Crows. The series follows teenage soldier Alina Starkov, an orphan from the Russian-inspired land of Ravka who discovers an unharnessed magical power that could be the key to helping fight the supernatural forces that have been dividing her country via a dense darkness called the Shadow Fold.(Photo by David Appleby/Netflix) At first glance, it is your traditional dark versus light massive-scale fantasy allegory in a war-torn world in which some of the characters, the Grisha, have magical abilities, star Ben Barnes explained.Plus: heists! The world has a czar-punk Russian aesthetic mixed with an industrial revolution vibe, which means you have early trains and guns and revolvers mixed with magic and swords and horses and capes. And complicated love risks and unspoken feeling and massive amounts of of tension between all of the characters and their individual agendas and politics of power, Barnes said.Barnes and Renaux star alongside Jessie Mei Li, who plays heroine Alina. An orphan since she was a young girl, Alina s closest ally is her BFF and fellow orphan Mal (Renaux). Although in the books Alina is from Ravka, in the show she s half Shu Han — which adds another layer of depth to her struggle, considering Ravka has been in conflict with its neighbors Shu Han and Fjerda. With the supernatural Shadow Fold blocking most of Ravka s access to the True Sea (and thus all trade), Ravkans must make their way through the terrifying area in order to survive.Barnes, Renaux, and showrunner Eric Heisserer (the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Arrival and Netflix fave Bird Box, among others) spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about what fans can expect from the first season of their series, including the star power of Li, green-screen acting, some romance, and even some spoiler-free details about what could happen in season 2, should Netflix give it the green light. Here are a few things to know before you watch the first eight episodes of the series.1. There Are Plenty of Differences Between the Books and the Show(Photo by Netflix)While a knowledge of the books is useful when watching the series, it s not required. And Heisserer and his writers — in cooperation with Bardugo, who was int
Japanese-style animation or anime is more popular than ever – and more accessible.In 2017, Sony Television has purchased popular anime streaming service Funimation and Amazon has folded its Anime Strike VOD service into Prime Video. Crunchyroll, one of the largest producers of anime content in the world, is now owned by AT T. And since 2018, Netflix has doubled down on its production of original anime content and launched @NX, a social media presence dedicated to its fantasy, genre, animation, and anime titles. Although many people are familiar with major anime titles, like Ghost in the Shell and Death Note, the sub-genre of horror anime has been growing in popularity. Horror anime is usually bloody, mildly suggestive, and almost always very creepy. The veneer of animation can make these works less terrifying than live-action horror movies, yet the best of the horror sub-genre often boasts incredible storylines as well as high-quality animation and voice acting. Curious? Here are nine anime horror series that you can stream just in time for Halloween.Tokyo Ghoul 100% What it is: This epic series is set in a world where ghouls – monsters that survive by eating human flesh – live on the outskirts of human society, secretly killing and feeding to survive. The series is the origin story of Ken Kaneki, a human teenager who becomes a half-ghoul after a transplant operation; he now has become his own worst nightmare and has to learn to navigate a world where neither side wants him.Why you should watch: Part horror, part existential think piece, Tokyo Ghoul offers one of the best character arcs since Daenerys Targaryen (and one that feels far less rushed).Episodes: 48Watch time: 19 hoursStreaming on: Hulu, FunimationJunji Ito Collection What it is: Junji Ito is regarded as the greatest horror mangaka ever. He is known for his freakishly detailed artwork and nightmare-inducing short stories, and this anthology series adapts several of his works for the small screen. Ito’s work is terrifying because it makes horror from the everyday: a girl gets sick at school and suddenly grows a giant slug out of her mouth, for example, and a murderous knife-wielding puppet controls an entire family. It’s freaky stuff. Why you should watch: The collection offers psychological thrills in small bites and an introduction to Ito’s work.Episodes: 14Watch time: 5.5 hoursStreaming on: Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime VideoDemon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba 100% What it is: In feudal Japan, a boy returns home to find his entire family viciously killed by a demon. The only survivor is his sister, who apparently has been turned, but still retains conscious human thought and cognizance — except when she’s hungry! The boy learns the ways of demon hunting in order to find a cure for his sister and to save others that are threatened by the demon horde.Why you should watch: Demon Slayer’s incredible animation makes it one of the most beloved anime series out right now.Episodes: 26Watch time: 10.5 hoursStreaming on: Crunchyroll, Hulu, FunimationParasyte: The Maxim What it is: Wormlike alien creatures invade Earth and begin body-snatching, turning their hosts into cannibalistic monsters. Their delivery method of choice? Drilling themselves into human flesh while potential hosts sleep and heading straight for the brain. However, Shinichi Izumi is unique, because he wakes up during an attack and stops the alien from burrowing through his body. The alien (now living in his hand), becomes sentient and begins communicating with him and together they save the world.Why you should watch: It’s the body-horror buddy cop anime you never knew you needed.Episodes: 24Watch time: 10 hoursStreaming on: HuluAnotherWhat it is: Kōichi Sakakibara transfers to a new school in a town where a young girl has died some 20 years prior. He soon meets Mei, a quiet girl with an eyepatch whom both the teachers and students seem to ignore. When students and relatives start dying in a variety of strange and bloody ways, the pair soon realize all the incidents are connected and try to get to the bottom of the mystery before anyone else gets killed.Why you should watch: It’s Final Destination, anime-style, and a lot of fun.Episodes: 12Watch time: 5 hoursStreaming on: CrunchyrollAjin: Demi-Human What it is: Kei Nagai is an aloof pre-med student who is hit by a truck and killed on his way to class one day. Moments later, his body resurrects and Kei realizes that he is Ajin, a demi-human with limitless regenerative powers. Those qualities have attracted government interest, which has been quietly experimenting and torturing Ajin in an effort to exploit their immortality. Kei is thrown into a world he never knew existed and must choose to fight for survival as a demi-human or fight for the entire human race.Why you should watch: Ajin gets the blood pumping with big scares and thrilling action, packing both into its intriguing central mystery. Episodes: 26Watch time: 10 hoursStreaming on: Netflix %What it is: Keiichi Maebara moves to a small rural town he quickly comes to love, but soon learns the village has a very dark secret. The series’ story is told in multiple arcs with a repeating timeline that differs based on who is telling the story. Don’t let the cuteness of the first episodes fool you – this series is so twisted it will leave you wondering if you ever learned the truth about any of the characters at all.Why you should watch: It’s a twisty psychological thriller with a lot of violence and blood, if that’s your thing. Episodes: 26Watch time: 10 hoursStreaming on: HuluNote: There are many versions and series called When they Cry. This is referring to the first anime series.Devilman Crybaby 89% What it is: Akira is your average sensitive teen who hasn’t seen his buddy Ryo since they were childhood besties. One day Ryo suddenly pops back into town and drags Akira to an underground rave orgy where he commences stabbing people. But that’s not the crazy part: The scent of blood makes some of the ravers transform into beasts themselves – including Akira, who becomes a human-demon hybrid. Convinced by Ryo that this is his true calling, Akira’s innate sensitivity transforms him into a rare breed: A demon with a human heart, or Devilman. That doesn’t make him any less violent, as his teenage desires and new body ratchet both his demon-hunting skills and his sex drive up to 1,000. Oh yeah, and he cries. A lot.Why you should watch: One of Netflix’s most violent and sexually explicit series ever produced. You’ll love the retro animation and over-the-top gore and violence. NSFW.Episodes: 10Watch time: 10 hoursStreaming on: NetflixHellsing Ultimate What it is: Integra Fairbrook Wingates Helsing is the new leader of the Helsing family. She commands the largest military fighting force dedicated to the eradication of the undead in England under Her Majesty the Queen. Her secret weapon is Alucard, a vampire who kills his own and his charge, a police officer named Seres. They all must fight the monsters of the night as well as the evil Nazi group Millenium, intent on destroying the world in this over-the-top vampire series.Why you should watch: If you like blood, gore and punching Nazis, you’ll be very happy.Episodes: 10Watch time: 8 hoursStreaming on: HuluLike this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.