A lot of anime keeps us wanting more, especially when there's a lot left of the story to tell. Sometimes, the hero's origins are forgotten the second they get explained. Other times, there's a character whose life just seems more interesting than the heroes. Luckily, that's where prequels come in handy, picking up on those unanswered questions...without ruining the first anime's ending, unlike certain sequels can do. Let's look at five of some of the top anime prequels (and five shows that can use a prequel, too!)
10 Best Prequel: Codename: Sailor V
Sailor Moon fans might remember that Sailor Venus was actually the first Pretty Guardian introduced in the series, as a solo superhero known as "Sailor V." Even the Nostalgia Critic was confused about why she got to be a hero first. Here's your answer: she was the original star of the franchise with her own manga series, Codename: Sailor V.
Minako Aino befriends a talking white cat named Artemis who reveals that she is the reincarnation of the goddess Venus (and the princess of the planet to boot) who can transform into Sailor V to save the people of Japan from the villainous Dark Agency.
There were plans to adapt the series into an OVA (original video animation) at some point, but it was decided to change one element: instead of one girl and her talking cat saving the world...we get a whole group of girls...and two talking cats. Thus, Sailor Moon was born. The original manga ran sporadically and technically finished its run after Sailor Moon finished theirs, which actually allowed the other Pretty Guardians to make cameos in the original.
9 Needs Prequel: Detective Conan
Shinichi Kudo was forced fed a drug after witnessing a crime meant to kill him, but merely regressed him into a child, Now going by the alias, "Conan," he's arguably become one of anime's greatest detectives. It's a long-running franchise with literally hundreds of stories and even a few spin-offs.
While the antagonists behind the poisoning eventually did get explored in the series, there's still a lot of questions left unanswered. Just how the heck did something meant as poison turn out to be the fountain of youth? This gets even more annoying in the anime where the characters behind the drugging were replaced with one-shots, so we know even less behind their motives.
8 Best Prequel: Dragon Ball Z: Bardock
When a little monkey-tailed boy gets sent to Earth and grows up to be one of the Earth's greatest fighters, it kind of makes you wonder just where he came from, and we got our answer in this 1990 TV special.
We learn the story of Bardock, Son Goku's birth father, who is cursed with visions of the future, including the destruction of the Planet Vegeta. He starts out as a soldier for Frieza, only to learn that he plans to destroy the entire Saiyan race. This being a prequel, his plan to stop Frieza's plan is already doomed from the start, but his visions give him one bit of hope: his son will ultimately be the one to stop Frieza.
Bardock proved so popular he later got introduced into the manga. Eventually, the special eventually got a manga sequel-of-sorts a few years later where it turns out Bardock actually survived the destruction of the planet, merely being sent back in time.
7 Needs Prequel: Zombie Land Saga
When an accident claims Sakura Minamoto's life, you'd think it put her dreams of becoming a pop idol singer to an early end. You'd think that, but luckily she, and a bunch of other girls, find themselves risen from the grave with one purpose: become the pop group Japan needs. The second it's revealed that Kotaro Tatsumi, their personal Dr. Frankenstein and manager, is revealed to have a secret past with Sakura herself, or at least knew her when she was alive, we know there's a lot of backstories that needs to be told. That and exactly how he managed to reverse death.
Not to mention, many of the girls have backstories from different parts of history, each with potential storylines just waiting to be told. Seriously, a show about Tae's early years is the anime series this generation needs.
6 Best Prequel: Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
When it comes to Lupin's continuity, it can be a little hard to tell what came first and what came after, but when we got a fourth series, not only was it a prequel, someone other than Lupin got to be the star: Fujiko Mine, if you didn't read the title.
Throughout the franchise, Fujiko is a female cat burglar and sort of a female counterpart to Lupin. Sometimes, she's his rival. Other times, she's an ally. All in all, she's something of a love interest. With her the star of this prequel series, we get to see more of her origins unveiled, as well as getting new "introductions" to some of the other characters.
In some ways, the 2012 series tried to reflect more of the sensual and dark themes of the manga as opposed to the previous incarnations. The anime is also notable for having a female director, the first in the franchise, according to TV Tropes, as well as a female head writer.
5 Needs Prequel: Yu Yu Hakusho
When you wait until the last season to reveal your main character is part demon, from a distant ancestor, and is in line to the throne of a demon kingdom, there's plenty of stuff left to explore. There's a whole storyline in Raizen and his past just waiting to happen. Alternatively, maybe a series about young Genkai?
4 Best Prequel: Hellsing: The Dawn
The Hellsing anime revolves around the Hellsing organization, a collection of vampire-fighters dedicated to protecting Great Britain, albeit by hiring the forces of the undead themselves, with the show focusing on the antihero vampire and weapon incarnate, Alucard.
A prequel manga amped the vampire threat by setting the story during WWII, as the organization fears that the Nazis could use the living dead to their advantage. To combat this threat, Hellsing sends some of the top agents into occupied Poland to fight, including Alucard, who is now in the form of a young girl. When vampires can shapeshift, they might as well take advantage of it. Taking advantage of the setting, a few of the series' villains also reappear.
Originally a manga, three chapters were later adapted into an OVA. Before you ask, we still get to see Alucard as a girl but he keeps his voice. Why waste a good seiyuu?
3 Needs Prequel: Hunter X Hunter
Once again, a character's unknown past could lead to a whole bunch of plots. Gon Freecss starts the series looking for his father and we're still not sure who his mother is. Not to mention, any way to keep a long-runner going is to try running backward a bit.
2 Best Prequel: Fate/Zero
If you like a lot of media, beyond just anime and manga, complete with light novels and drama CDs, then there's Fate/Zero, the prequel to Fate/stay night.
Going ten years back, Kiritsugu Emiya, the adoptive father of Shirou Emiya, the protagonist of the parent series, is the star and the series revolves around the Fourth Holy Grail War, a strange magical competition, all to obtain the wish-granting Holy Grail. Originally a light novel, we eventually got an anime adaptation.
It's interesting to see a character we once knew as a loving adoptive father now as a merciless killer, fighting on behalf of his wife's, and his own surrogate, family, but it's impressive to think the whole thing started with a PC game.
1 Needs Prequel: One Piece
When your anime is a long-runner filled with a seemingly endless supply of characters, there's plenty of ideas to run with, but how about this: an anime dedicated to Gol D. Roger, better known as "The Pirate King." Just think of all the pirate history left to explore.
What is an anime series that you think deserve a preview? Or what are some existing anime previews that you like?