Anime for Dummies: What Starters Should Watch

So, you want to start watching anime but you don’t know where to start? Few can blame you. Anime is a rising medium in the entertainment industry. In fact, it’s so widespread, chances are you’ve been exposed to anime without realizing it. Many kids in the 90’s watched Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon without knowing it was anime they were watching. Pokemon served as a very common gateway as well and it shows how much anime can seep into someone’s life without them realizing it. So, what you want to do is start watching anime to the extent that hardcore fans watch, watch anime knowing it is anime, and watch anime being able to compare and contrast it to American animation or other animated shows of its type.

What is Anime

Dragonball Z I a Shonen, the mot popular genre of Anime. This set the stage for what modern Shonen is known for.
Dragonball Z is a Shonen, the mot popular genre of Anime. This set the stage for what modern Shonen is known for.

First off: What is anime? Anime is, put simply, Japanese animation. It is when a Japanese artist animates things into a storyline, basically like any other cartoon movie but Japanese style. Don’t go calling anime cartoon though. Cartoon has become synonymous with American animation and anime is too distinct to be called a cartoon. Strictly speaking, and to please fans, the two are different. As said, without knowing, you may have been exposed to such animation a while ago. You know popular games like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. If you are familiar with and have played these games, you have definitely been exposed to anime, at least to a limited extent.

Now we’ve established that you have been exposed to anime, we can continue. Anime is split between different types. What happens is there are different target audiences for anime and then there are different genres. The target audiences are Kodomo, Shonen, Shojou, and Seinen. What does this mean? Well, Kodomo is for young kids, Seinen is anime for older people, Shojou is anime for teenage girls and Shonen is anime for teenage boys and is the most widely loved anime among its audience and dominates the anime industry. Doesn’t this all mean that most anime is for kids, then? No! Because unlike most other mediums of entertainment, the demographic is then split between different genres, some of which are more widely accepted, and there lies the reason why anime is so popular.

What are genres? Genres are actually universally used terms to refer to what kind of story you’re about to get into: Adventure, romance, angst, sports, tragedy, drama, comedy, family, crime, etc… are all genres. Harry Potter is of the fantasy genre, Twilight is romance, Gulliver’s Travels is Adventure, and CSI is crime. Anime is included in this as well as games and any other form of entertainment. This is where you start trying to decide which anime to get into, which anime to follow and which fandom to get involved in. In the anime community, there are widely accepted ‘gateway anime’ to introduce to people just starting out. We won’t go into all that, though. Gateway Anime are generally the popular ones like Naruto and One Piece. Since we just established that different genres are for different people, someone may not necessarily like those two.

Another natural part of Anime people need to remember is that it is naturally Japanese. Being Japanese, most Anime are Japanese spoken and many times, one will have to rely on subtitles. This is where the distinction between subs and dubs come in. Dubs are Anime that were given an English dub, meaning it is spoken in English. Subs are Anime that are Japanese spoken with English subtitles. Subs vs. dubs are a factor in choosing Anime, because many people simply prefer laying back and watching and listening without relying on reading subtitles. However, for a starter, this guide recommends going into dubs but be open to going subbed eventually or the choices are limited.

Gateway Anime

Many people got into Anime by watching Pokémon first.
Many people got into anime by watching Pokémon first.

If you’re in the mood for an adventure with different themes like maturation, characterization, and bits of tragedy, Naruto and One Piece is for you. If you prefer a lighter science fiction adventure, Cowboy Bebop is a nice anime to get into. Forget space, maybe you want a light adventure on land where each episode is a self-contained story, maybe Kino’s Journey is the best choice. Or, perhaps you’re more of a dark fantasy type with major elements of tragedy, in which case Attack on Titan is perfect. Do you like the drama of philosophy, war and conspiracy? Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is for you by far, and Code Geass for those who want a war of smarts and attrition at once. Maybe you hate adventure. What if you prefer the serious stuff like crime and investigation? Death Note is the better choice. Or perhaps you want Thriller, in which case Another is the perfect anime to start with. Perhaps someone doesn’t want any serious stuff and they prefer romance. Well, Chuunibyou, Love and Other Delusions is a good romantic anime to start with. Or perhaps you prefer Historical fiction in which case Black Butler is the way to go. Or maybe you just want comedy, and prefer watching Ouran High School Host Club which has comedic themes ranging from romance and sexuality to regular high school drama.

Going into these particular romances like Ouran and Chuunibyou leads you to the Slice of Life category. A Slice of Life is exactly what it sounds like, a bit of ordinary life. Most Slice of Life anime follows the mold of the aforementioned anime. Most of them take place in High school since, let’s face it, who wants a Slice off an ordinary working man’s life? It’s so much less interesting than the romantically fueled High School setting, not to mention it would bore the teenage target audience to death. Deciding what anime to get into can be difficult. The gateway makes or breaks a person’s interest most of the time because first impressions mean almost everything.

It is because of this a lot of anime fans think up “Gateway Anime” to use in their missionary work to convert so many others outside their fandom. Anime just has that charm to it, an appeal in its Animation only animation experts can truly pinpoint. Since not all of us are experts with every genre of anime out there, we look for universal gateways, gateways most people would like. That is naturally the easiest path. From there, things start getting interesting and passionate all at once. This is where the major anime series, let alone movies, start coming in. What’s this? Aren’t movies for more hardcore anime fans? Nope. Some anime movies, namely Hayao Miyazaki movies, are the best movies to start your anime watching experience. For some, they are exactly what you need to start. Like Disney is what started your animation experience as a child, Hayao Miyazaki is exactly like that.

Anyways, what was the point of naming a bunch of anime and not going into them? Why the heck would anyone trust a stranger online over what anime is good or bad? Much better to trust your friends, right? Well, this is why it is prudent to go through each and every anime mentioned, explain the plot and why it is a good gateway into the wider anime world. This guide will name specific gateways into a specific genre, and it will name some generally accepted universal gateways that everyone can enjoy.

A long time ago, back in the nineties, anime like Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and Cowboy Bebop took the west by storm. They broke out of their original country of Japan and appealed to western audiences. Dragonball started as a series before developing into Dragonball Z, and that set the stage for the formula that Shonen is known for in shows like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Fairy Tail, and Cardcaptor Sakura alcheas well as Shaman King. Shows like Dragonball and Naruto are originally manga, (Japanese comic) and were serialized as such in magazines before being adapted. If you’re more of a comic reader, choosing a manga might be a better start than going straight into visual Anime.

Anime is part of Japanese culture now, and being part of Japanese culture, it is not unusual for just about anyone to watch it. Some Anime try to appeal directly to a western audience. In fact, looking at how some main characters like Naruto from Naruto look western in look is a direct example of how it may try to appeal to an outside audience. All these anime are now regarded as nostalgic pieces of history. The way a nineties Disney fan would view The Little Mermaid, the same holds true to an anime lover who looks back and knows how it all began. Such an extensive history of anime will only continue to grow and expand. So, without further ado, here goes the anime guide. Please note that the following Anime caters specifically to different genres. Those who are not interested in a particular genre can skip the section corresponding to it and the recommended Anime.

Adventure- Naruto

A long time ago, a demon fox with nine tails existed. When one tail was swung, it would destroy a mountain and cause a tsunami. To counter it, the people gathered shinobi. One shinobi sealed the monster in a life or death battle and died. That shinobi was known as the Fourth Hokage.
“A long time ago, a demon fox with nine tails existed. When one tail was swung, it would destroy a mountain and cause a tsunami. To counter it, the people gathered shinobi. One shinobi sealed the monster in a life or death battle and died. That shinobi was known as the Fourth Hokage.”

Introduction: Naruto is for the type that craves for an epic adventure, a long series, and a journey of growth, maturation, and discovery of characterizations and back stories on them. Naruto is one of what is commonly known as The Big Three. The Big Three is a group of- well- three Anime that are incredibly popular and consists of One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto. This section speaks of Naruto since its author is not as familiar with One Piece and Bleach as he would like to be. To be honest, all three has major themes of adventure but in different ways. Naruto focuses on character development, One Piece focuses on world building which compliments adventure. These three owe their existence to Dragonball Z which gave rise to exactly this style.

Plotline: Naruto starts the epic story of a twelve year-old boy who dreams of being acknowledged. He relates to a lot of kids who feel left out because he himself starts as a loner. Naruto starts this way because he previously had a demon fox sealed inside him as a baby to save the village from attack. The villagers extend their dislike of the fox to its host. Naruto is a story that takes place in a Feudal Japan-inspired world of ninja. It is more complicated than kids being ninjas because this time the world of ninjas has a touch of magical fantasy to it. Ninja are generally able to perform hand signs in very quick motion to release elemental damage (fire, earth, water, wind and lightning.) Each nation of ninja has its own hidden ninja village ruled by someone called a Kage, who is the most powerful of that village and is tasked with protecting it. Naruto’s dream is to become the Kage of his village, which is called the Hidden Leaf Village.

Cons: Some problems with this anime are that it is filled with fillers and unneeded episodes and the world you are introduced to is generally the world you’ll stay in. World building is not as important as character building. Once you get into the second part of the anime called Naruto: Shippuden, it becomes a little predictable. Fans generally like the predictability though, because when something unexpected happens (and make no mistake, Shippuden is the time when major reveals are made). Eventually, a point would come where things just die down and the same thing happens, ultimately building up to a bigger same thing. Some people can also get the impression that some aspects were definitely come up with on the spot. A part of this can be attributed to the fact that as Naruto (and many other Anime) are serialized as manga, editors push for it to be lengthened as a series if it is popular.

Pros: What makes Naruto a good anime is that there is something for everyone. It is enormously inspired off an anime that came before it called Dragonball Z. Naruto follows that trope in the sense that its characters increase their power levels to untold proportions, and fight evil characters that intend to misuse their power. Basically, ninja against ninja. It may be boring at parts but at those same parts, the story is progressing. As long as the water avoids filler, you are always getting closer to understanding something. Character building is done pretty well in this anime too, as many characters have different stories and back stories that make the audience question their motives, their allegiance, even their philosophy and their personalities. This anime is not without tension and is certainly no fairy tale. Characters die, but it is not as heavy a theme as in Harry Potter. When a character does die though, it hits and it hits hard.

How Many to Watch: For this anime, the general rule is this: Watch the first five episodes. If the world looks good, continue to the first arc titled The Land of Waves arc. If that arc does it, you’ll like it. If it fails, you won’t like it.

Science Fiction- Cowboy Bebop

This show is very nostalgic for some people.
“… Bang…”

Introduction: Cowboy Bebop is an anime that is immensely popular. In some ways, this anime was groundbreaking. It did things anime before it did not do before. For one thing, it’s one of the very few anime that can be classified as a science fiction space opera. This does not mean it’s like Star Wars though. Going into Cowboy Bebop expecting something big and epic is a big mistake. What the anime has going for it are its characters, its different settings, and of course, its soundtrack which is a heavy sort of jazz style that fits the general mood of the anime.

Plotline: Cowboy Bebop is a space opera adventure. It follows a band of bounty hunters travelling around the Solar System and its humanized colonies to catch different criminals with bounties on their heads. It starts with your two main characters, Spike and Jet. They continuously attempt to score large bounties in a series where each episode is a self-contained story. However, early on, two more join their team of bounty hunters including Miss Valentine and the female child hacker Radical Edward, giving the crew an even split between genders. While each episode is a self contained story, the character arc of Spike, the main character, is not and certainly has its conclusion as satisfying as any overarching storyline.

Cons: Even the most popular anime have downsides, however. Cowboy Bebop is not to be watched with high expectations. No matter how much people hype the show up, it is based purely on nostalgia and memories. Cowboy Bebop has a style that is not welcomed by just anyone. Some people prefer an overarching storyline and continuously seeing the crew attempt to chase bounties down can get boring at times. It starts getting more interesting halfway through, and the movie chronologically takes place before the final five episodes which means it is best watched after Episode 19. In the end, all the anime is really, is an adventure through space, through good times and bad. The characters themselves, who make the story what it is, may not appeal to everyone and that is exactly what the anime has going against it. Is what it has going against it enough?

Pros: Not necessarily, at least, not in terms of characters. This anime has the strength of having a diverse set of recurring characters among the crew. There is the young and wild young girl Radical Edward, the badass Captain of the ship Jet, the mysterious main character with a mysterious past called Spike, and the sexually active Miss Valentine who too has a mysterious past. Add to this the presence of their constant animal companion, a dog, and the cast of characters feels complete. For those who do not like self-contained episodes in anime and prefer an overarching storyline, the characters of Cowboy Bebop have arcs that are revealed gradually, making it essential that each episode is watched in order, right up to the final few episodes which conclude the characters arcs of each crew member

How Many to Watch: The show is popular, that cannot be denied. As said, do not watch with high expectations. Watch for the sake of an adventure through space, and watch with the willingness to meet many different kinds of characters. Seven episodes should be enough of a chance. For those who have not grown into it, the choice is theirs: Continue on until after Episode 10 in hopes it gets more interesting, or quit.

If Cowboy Bebop is not your style, however, I would still suggest an anime of its type. Kino’s Journey is the same thing except in takes place on land, each episode is self-contained, bounty hunters are not a central theme and the main character is a girl with a talking motorcycle. Or, of course, neither will adhere to your tastes.

Dark Fantasy- Attack on Titan

This Anime is relatively recent, set in a post apocalyptic world where man-eating monsters rule the earth.
“Mankind received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the titans, and we were disgraced to live in thee cages we called walls.”

Introduction: Maybe a colorful adventure full of fluff and light-hearted moments don’t do it for you. Maybe you want something darker, but still fantasy. In that case, look at Attack on Titan. Also known by its Japanese name Shingeki no Kyojin, this anime is not some anime that aired in the nineties and is still inexplicably going strong, it’s not like Naruto and Dragonball Z. This one is recent and is already immensely popular. So popular, the creator was touched by fans’ love for the series and elected to change the original ending he had planned for it. Whether that is good or bad, no one can deny how strong the series has become.

Plotline: Attack on Titan is an anime following the life of a boy named Eren Jaeger in a post apocalyptic world. In this world set far into the future, the last of humanity is hidden behind huge walls that protect them from humanoid man-eating giants called Titans. Eren and his adopted sister Mikasa and their best friend Armin Arlert are forced into military service against the Titans when the outer wall is penetrated and the populace on the outer-most human reservation are either wiped out or evacuated. Dreaming of getting into the Recon Corps which do the bul of the world against the Titans, eren and his friends meet a host of new characters who too dream of fighting the Titans that threaten their lives.

Cons: The one thing wrong about this anime is that it really is too dark. Despite it being a Shonen anime, which means its targeted specifically towards boys younger than fifteen, mentions of abuse and famine are not foreign to this world. The only other thing that may be wrong is that the creator had admitted previously that he intended for the series to be much shorter, culminating in a tragic ending to betray the fans. The presence of these fans made him rethink this entirely. This may suggest that the creator does not know where he’s going with this any longer, and where writer’s don’t know where they’re going with a story, it falls apart. Unless the creator has something in mind, Attack on Titan is in danger of doing just that.

Pros: All of that may be meaningless though. The creator emphasizes by saying he know what he wants to do, he’s just not sure how to do it. That is a new level entirely. In the case of Attack on Titan, the ending is not nearly as important as the reveals that take place. In this world, there are so many things the audience does not know that at the beginning, while you may be aware of the state humanity is in, you are not aware of the finer details. These reveals are very well thought out and scheduled carefully, so the story itself is on good ground. The high tension t creates is perfect for people who are in the dark fantasy genre, predictability is very low (to the point you truly do not know whether the good guys will win in the end) and that is what makes a tense story

How Many to Watch: Because of the way the anime is done, Attack on Titan does not need five episodes like Naruto or seven episodes like Cowboy Bebop. Some may argue quite well that Attack on Titan can attract with a single episode so one may very well be enough. Still, to be fair, give it three. All it needs is three episodes. If you do not like it within those three episodes, you won’t like it in five.

Philosophy and War- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

This Anime deal more with Philosophy, war and, of course, brotherhood.
“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s first law of Equivalent Exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one and only truth.”

Introduction: Perhaps the sort of anime you’re looking for is an anime on philosophy, ideology, conspiracy and war. No shame, no shame. Fullmetal Alchemist is another popular anime and a great gateway that even adults might like it. Many newcomers confuse this for being the sequel to the original series Fullmetal Alchemist. This is not the case. This is a reboot and it follows the original Manga more faithfully than its counterpart. It is for that reason this anime is recommended. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is clearer in its representation, rendering the original obsolete.

Plotline: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a touching story about two boys, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who lose their mother. They defy a taboo against human creation and not only fail to bring their mother back from the dead, but they lose a lot in the process. Edward loses an arm and a leg and Alphonse loses his body, forcing his brother to entrap his soul in a suit of armor in an attempt to save him from death. The two go on a journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone, which is rumored to be able to defy that taboo and create anything at will. In this journey, they join the military’s branch of State Alchemists and work for the Colonel Roy Mustang and by extension the Fuhrer President King Bradley. In this story, they find themselves in a battle against seven different villains, each one a Homunculus and each one named after a different deadly sin.

Cons: This show touches a lot on philosophy and religion, military and war, and even genocides. The downside to this is that a lot of the time, just when things seem to be getting serious, the characters get all childish and wavy in a very cartoon way to lighten the mood. Keep in mind, the main characters are kids, teenagers at the oldest, and so a lot of their mentalities cannot fully be appreciated by an older audience. This attempt to remain light-hearted and easy feels very forced and it can get on a lot of nerves, especially if an adult happens to be watching it. Just when you really get into it, it’s interrupted by the characters digressing into kids land. Due to its nature, it also takes more than a few episodes to get into.

Pros: All those cons hardly matter when it really comes down to it though. The cartoony aspect seldom happens and it does not take from the more serious matters that we won’t go into right now. The characters may be kids but their superiors are all adult and they are, more often than not, treated as adults. These may be kids but these are kids who were forced to grow up too fast. One lost two limbs, the other lost his body and is merely an empty shell of a soul, and their mother is dead. Their father is another story entirely. In spite of childish moments, war and death are very real here and some of the cast are killed off as the story reaches its climax. The fandom is general can’t bring itself to acknowledge one in particular due to its painful subject

How Many to Watch: If the first few minutes of the first episode does not get you (it will, don’t worry about that) the next four will. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime that touches on adult subjects and therefore, it takes a while to get into. If the first few minutes and even the first five episodes don’t do it, give it two more. If, by the fifth episode you are not hooked, give it up.

Crime- Death Note

This deals with a difficult question in the criminal justice system. The death penalty.
“I will hunt you down wherever you are hiding and I will eliminate you. I. Am. Justice!”

Introduction: What? You don’t like adventure? You want crime and investigation and you prefer sticking with CSI than some childish anime you think will mess the genre up. Well, you know what? I don’t like your tone. I bring Death Note to the table. This anime is about an anti-hero facing off against an anti-villain not through physical means but mental, all centered around a killer notebook. Both are geniuses, one committed a crime and the other is trying to find him out, while the other conceals himself to whatever end. Ok, so the introduction is crummy. What is it about? The anime starts with a bunch of Shinigami, otherwise known as Gods of Death, in their realm. One drops a notebook into the human world.

Plotline: Death Note follows the life of a brilliant High school honor student Light Yagami who finds a notebook that claims that whoever’s name is written in it will die. Light initially disbelieves this claim but tries it anyway on a criminal who was holding hostages (including children), he discovered that it does work. Light is visited by a God of Death named Ryuk, who explains the notebook’s power and reveal that he is now Light’s companion until Light’s eventual, inevitable death. Light’s mind slowly begins to justify the murder and starts routinely killing criminals, hoping to make the world a better place. Eventually, the deaths of criminals get noticed. Light’s fans start calling him Kira, but the police frown on this. They get the help of the world’s greatest detective, known only as L. L challenges Light on live television and the show becomes a face-off between two unknown men, neither of whom now the identity of the other.

Cons: Death Note is a very popular anime, no one can deny that, but it does have a few things going against it. One of the main things people like to complain about is the second season. Without spoiling things, we can’t go too much into it but it’s quite controversial. Some love the second season and others hate it. In fact, some claim that Death Note was originally supposed to end with its first season. This serves further to claim that the show is simply one of those that had a good run and ultimately killed itself. However, this is for the fans to decide and many disagree intensely with this perception.

Pros: The second season nonetheless continues the story and it does have a satisfying conclusion right up to the end. In fact, many novelizations and short mangas are spun off with the second season in mind. Death Note is also really good because it challenges people to think. As harsh as it is, killing criminals, even the petty ones, does have an effect on the crime rate. It is portrayed as a harsh but viable method of erasing crime. Throughout the anime, even the second season, the audience is left to decide whose side they are on. The detective L is introduced, and he even a quirks that make the audience identify with him, thus making him a very popular character. In fact, both character, L and Light are incredibly popular amongst fans and it’s not hard to see why.

How Many to Watch: Since this show is primarily about crime and investigation, you cannot expect more than what you’re given in the first few episodes. Most anime need a few episodes to get into. Where Naruto probably demands twenty episodes, Death Note only needs three if not two. If by the third episode you have not gotten into it, you never will.

Thriller- Another

In the mood for thrills and mystery? Try Another. It's right up your alley.
“How does it feel to not exist?”

Introduction: You want the Thriller genre? Wait- you want a good one? Like, an original storyline falling into the Thriller genre? You do realize how rare that is right? Well, I’ve got the perfect one. Another is a fairly good anime falling into exactly that. It is filled with murder, suspense, and mystery and all taking place in High School. No, no, I’m not talking about your typical High school setting where one character kills another or they have an evil teacher or something, it’ nothing like The Gallows, nor is it all about romance in the end. No, I’m talking actual thriller. It’s not predictable. You’ll think you’ll know the end but you really won’t.

Plotline: Another is an anime about a new High school student who moves into a classroom. There, he is treated as if he does not exist. This may be typical for any new High school student but this is taken to the next level. The students have to stop acknowledging him because he dared to acknowledge another student who is treated as if she does not exist. The stakes: Their very lives. The class can only have a certain amount of people, if it goes above that amount, people in that class, their relatives, even their friends, are at risk of death. By acting like an extra student does not exist, the curse may be parried. Not broken but parried. The reason for this cruelty is because it is believed that one, unknown student in that class is actually dead and is the core of the curse.

Cons: Another is quite the thriller but it also means it can get quite gory at times. It’s not pretty to look at. More than that, when deaths are being built up to, it is not hard to predict who is going to die more than it is to predict who is dead. The core is not predictable but the action is. It’s the typical horror show where each and every death can be seen coming from a mile away. The anime is also one of the shorter ones out there. Where most anime run at around twenty-two or even twenty-five episodes, this one runs at twelve. That means the adventure is shorter than some would like. For some people this is no problem but for others, it is. The typical High school setting may also serve to repel some people.

Pros: What Another has going for it is so much more. So it’s easy to see who might die later, big deal. It’s not easy at all to know who the dead student is in the classroom. There are red herrings and the legend and curse affect the characters on a psychological level, almost makes them paranoid. Some just want to break the curse, others want to make sure it cannot affect them, all just want to be left alone. The anime may be short, but it’s quality over quantity and it is not every day a thriller of this type is made with enough heart to really earn the audience’s interest. It has all the requirements a thriller needs and more, and it executes things almost brilliantly.

How Many to Watch: Since Another is very short, it only really needs a couple of episodes. Two should do it. If it did not hook you by the first or second episode, it simply won’t do it. If it does, go for it but be prepared. It’s not for kids. Thrillers rarely are.

Romance- Chuunibyou, Love and Other Delusions

Sure it's romantic, sure half he Anime is spent observing how these two manage their relationship but it's just so nostalgic.
“Are you familiar with the phrase ‘eighth grader syndrome?’ Children are most prone to it around the end of eighth grade. It’s an adorable yet dreadful disease resulting from new-found self-awareness mixing with an overly active imagination that results in the peculiar behavior we’re all quite painfully familiar with.”

Introduction: Romance, huh? You like that sappy stuff? Don’t worry, if it’s done right, everybody does. What you’re looking for is a romantic storyline that is actually done right. You don’t want sappy, or you want sappy but you want good sappy. In other words, you want to be able to root for the main couple. This is rather difficult to pin down, of course, because the main couple would need something unique that sets them apart from all other romantic couples you know. What romance you already know, anyone can only guess. Chuunibyou is a romantic anime set in High school and I would argue it’s the best one out there.

Plotline: Chuunibyou is named for the Japanese term chuunibyou. Chuunibyou basically refers to the phase in adolescence, around eighth grade, where you or anyone else starts acting like something they simply are not. The boy who tried to start drinking coffee before he even acquired a taste, the girl who started speaking Japanese even though she isn’t Japanese at all, or even acting like you are a super-powered evil Lord of Darkness. All of that is chuuibyou and is the basis for this anime. The anime follows a boy who is trying to put his rather extreme chuunibyou past behind him until he meets and even falls in love with a girl his age whose chuunibyou side has completely taken over.

Cons: If the anime has anything going against it, it’s not the mushy stuff but the slow-moving plot. The plot is inherently romantic and for an older person, having it set in High school might not do much. In fact, it could repel a lot of romance lovers out there. These characters make no effort to let the audience forget the setting is High school either based on how immature some of them can be. That’s the core of the negativity. Immaturity. A lot of the characters are immature and the anime, is anything, glorifies that immaturity. For some people, that’s just a turn-off. It is a shame too because romance is always immature or overly mature, especially the popular ones. So, why watch it?

Pros: Because, the story does not focus inherently on their lovey-dovey side nor is immaturity a vice in this case. Chuunibyou challenges the idea that immaturity is a vice. It focuses on those around them, their relationships and builds up to it little by little. It doesn’t just swoop in out of nowhere. The romantic relationship takes time, and it takes patience. It’s real that way. And this realness makes itself known when, slowly, the audience is introduced to the characters, their past, who they are and what makes them that way. If you don’t like immaturity, you’ll like the main character. If you love immaturity, you’ll like the love interest. Why? Because it’s imaginative. The love interest acts frequently like she is a dark person with evil powers and it shows when the scene skips into her own imagination and lets you see what she sees. Funnily, these imagination sequences make this one of most epic romantic anime told (even more so than Sword Art Online. That’s not saying much though.)

How Many to Watch: This anime is based off a light novel series in Japan and so it has two seasons and a bunch of shorts. Three is the treasure. If the first three episodes do not hook you, it probably won’t hook you at all. Do not watch those three episodes expecting a blossoming romance. Again, it takes time and patience. Watch them knowing who is likely to be the love interest and expect things to go from there. If ever there is a romantic storyline someone could get into, it’s this.

Historical Fiction- Black Butler

A demon Butler from Hell forced to serve a young Earl... all in exchange for his soul.
A demon Butler from Hell forced to serve a young Earl… all in exchange for his soul.

Introduction: Anime also has a hand in historical fiction. One of the most popular historical settings is none other than Victorian England. Setting itself after the industrial revolution, a time where poverty was rampant, and a time when feminism was on the rise with the most powerful monarch in the world being a woman, Victorian England is a popular point of history to write about. So much so, even anime which is based on an island archipelago nation of Japan way down south has touched upon this era of human history as well. Thus, Black Butler comes into being.

Plotline: Black Butler is an anime about a twelve year-old Earl named Ciel Phantomhive making a contract with a demon named Sebastian Michaelis. Sebastian is to act as the boy’s butler and loyal servant until Ciel has taken revenge on those who killed his parents. At that point, Sebastian would be allowed to consume Ciel’s soul forever. The anime follows exactly this. It soon turns out there are more characters than just Ciel and Sebastian, including Ciel’s fiancée Elizabeth Midford, their three clumsy servants, and the Indians Agni and Soma as well as Grim Reapers who hunt demons. Ciel tirelessly chases after his parents’ killers, all the while doing jobs for the Queen as her loyal Watchdog of the British Underworld.

Cons: Like all anime, Black Butler has its shortcomings. As interesting a premise as this anime has, it has a reputation for giving in to pure fan service. Fan service is when the author detracts from the story, even takes from it or changes it, to give fans what they want. This mostly comes at the cost of the story itself. The fandom of this anime is not helping matters. The fans want romantic scenes between Ciel and Sebastian (no kidding, pedophilia and demon-on-child) and while the anime can’t show this outright due to its type, it does a good job of implying it. The unforgivable con of this anime is the second season. If you don’t like this type of fan service, don’t watch it. Those who have watched it regret it.

Pros: Nonetheless, the first season was actually pretty decent. If one watches it as a first season and ignores the second, it can actually stand pretty well. There were moments when one might have the impression they meant to go one way before changing their minds and going another but it all came to a conclusion in the end and it can be explained by the anime catching up with the original manga and having to go their own way afterwards. There has since been a new arc retconning half the first season and staying true to the Manga so even disregarding this, the anime itself is a very decent one to consider.

How Many to Watch: Black Butler should hook you by the first episode. Dare I say this? Give the first episode a try. If it doesn’t work, it never will. Keep in mind, however, the different arcs as you watch. The first season can be watched as a standalone, or you can watch the first half and go on to the Book of Murder OVA series and the Noah’s Ark Circus series that retcons the next half of the first season and the entire second season (especially the second season.) Always remember, first and foremost: This is a historical fiction.

Comedy- Ouran High School Host Club

A girl mistaken for a boy, forced to work for romanticized young men who flirt too much with women.
“The Ouran Host Club is where the school’s handsomest boys with too much time on their hands entertain young ladies who also have way too much time on their hands. Just think of it as the Ouran Academy’s elegant playground for the super-rich and beautiful.”

Introduction: Ah, classic comedy. Comedy is borne from tragedy, and tragedy stems from sad situations. There are anime that are comedic in nature but as comedy is rather diverse with different people having diverse senses of humor, what constitutes as comedy may be difficult to pinpoint for a single person. In other words, what’s funny to me may not be funny to you. It is for this reason I bring Ouran High School Host Club up. This anime is suggested half-heartedly but it will be explained almost definitely. The first thing to know about this anime is it is a reverse harem. A harem is an anime with a boy surrounded by females all competing for his affections so a reverse harem is the opposite. It is when a female character is surrounded by males all competing for her affections in one way or another.

Plotline: Ouran High School Host Club is about a girl named Haruhi who, upon breaking a priceless vase, is forced to become part of a club that flirts with young women out of boredom. The Host Club is a club of teenage boys and funnily, Haruhi looks very much like a boy. The anime is basically a story of just that, Haruhi being forced to be part of their club, and act as a boy though she is a girl, to pay off her debt. Considering the club’s various activities and the fact that their members are generally very rich, this proves to be quite difficult. The episodes are not exactly self-contained but there is no real overarching plotline beyond the basis either. Most ventures by the Host Club take a single episode, some take two or three.

Cons: Like most comedies, this anime has a lot going against it. It is a reverse harem. This may be funny to some but it will be typical, cliché and bland to others, if not borderline offensive. The first episode appears almost like it was directly primarily towards girls with sexual fantasies. It just does not appear like boys would be interested (unless they were not only gay, but fit the stereotype for such.) The female lead is surrounded by love-struck, teenage boys including twins who are literally all over each other, (borderline incest.) The show is a comedy based entirely on sexual, gender-based jokes. It also tends to throw in characters who look like one gender… but they are the opposite. Meaning before long, you’ll think one character is a boy, only for it to be a girl later. And vice versa.

Pros: So, what do people see in this anime? Ouran High School Host Club is entirely character-based. It is driven by the characters and their relationships and as the anime goes on, you learn the history and personality of each character. While the first episode may be a repellent, the next few are far from it. The purpose of this anime is to just be funny. Not only, if ever something comes up that needs to be taken seriously, the anime does not go off on an unacceptable humorous tangent, but allows the audience to take it seriously. The right emotions and mood are struck in a variety of situations: If the main character is scared of something, if another character is in a fight, or if another just needs her brother with her. It does not ignore emotions. Also, though the cast may appear like inconsiderate philanderers, they’re not. They may be flirtatious, but they have a guiding principle: To bring girls happiness. Their main driving force: They are all friends.

How Many to Watch: That said, this anime is not to be watched as a shipper, meaning don’t watch this expecting to know without a shadow of a doubt which couple will be canon. This anime needs not only three to five episodes to get into, but an open mind. The jokes can really be anything and most of them are gender-based. Because of its nature, even if the comedy fails and it’s not funny to someone, it can still be generally enjoyed. Still, the words of caution should not be forgotten.

Universal Gateways

The anime listed are not the only ones you should get into or consider. In fact, some might have a better gateway in mind. In the end, the one who knows his or her own tastes better is the person in question. In the case of crime or military warfare, Code Geass might be a better gateway. Many have started with Sword Art Online and One Piece. These days, with the era of the Big Three coming to an end, many are getting into their inspirations Fairy Tail and Boku no Hero Academia. A particular popular comedy is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya which is fantastical at best and should definitely be watched expecting just about anything no matter how unreal it may be.

It depends where the entertainment tastes of the person goes. anime is a diverse medium and it might just raise your interest for a genre you never knew you liked. Anime that have been very successful in converting non-anime watchers to the medium are Death Note and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Regardless of someone’s interest in philosophy or crime, these anime might just capture their interests because of a variety of other themes. This is something no other medium has. Most stories are driven primarily by their own themes but anime uses everything it has. Anime’s main purpose is to appeal to its audience and beyond, and a perfect representation of this are the aforementioned Hayao Miyazaki movies.

Where to go from here

Well, there you have it. Recommendations are set, a clear pathway charted. Where the road takes you is up to you. Anime can go to a bunch of different places, in some cases, from the beginning, you’d never guess where an anime’s storyline can take you and you’ll never guess where your anime journey can take you. There are many other gateway out there, some well-known and some not so much. If you want to like anime, you will rest assured of that, especially if you begin safe with your own tastes before venturing into unknown territory. Don’t go thinking all anime is good either. Some are atrocious. One can only pray that your first anime is not one of those atrocious types that repel you from all others.

The cool thing about anime is it has something in its style of animation that appeals to everyone. The animators of Japan give it heart. More time goes into hand-drawn animation and so, animators prefer to spend that time doing something they genuinely enjoy rather than something to make big bucks. This leads to something many different types can enjoy. Even a cynical adult can enjoy Death Note because of its type of storyline. Once you’ve watched your first anime adhering to your own tastes, you are ready to go down a specific path, a path of your choosing. Don’t let a single bad anime discourage you but be careful. Read reviews and recommendations and synopses before watching and soon enough, anime will be another medium to get entertainment from.

Good luck!

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Suk Keating

    For beginner I recommend a series that has ended, not one of these series that keeps on going like One Piece (although I like those shows I don’t watch them anymore)

    For Action, my favourite series is the first Full Metal Alchemist series and I would recommend that. For zany romantic comedies I recommend Ouran High school Host club and Fruits Basket (although the latter will make your teeth rot)

    For stand alone movies I would recommend Summer Wars and Paprika.

    • Adnan Bey

      Yes, and for a series that has ended, it is much better to start with Naruto or Bleach as opposed to One Piece. Thankfully, I made sure to list series that ended. Curious, why the first Fullmetal Alchemist over Brotherhood?

    • I am also curious!

  2. You missed a trick not including Satoshi Kon’s amazing ‘Paranoia Agent’. The opening titles alone should be enough to convince you.

  3. I’m watching the remake of Hunter x Hunter at the moment. The art style is cleaner and the Japanese voice talent is different. I still haven’t made up my mind if it tops the original 1998 series, which was brilliant.

    I don’t like dubbed Anime to be honest. It gets too Americanized for my taste. I prefer original Japanese with subtitles.

    • Adnan Bey

      In regards to dubs, I see what you mean. A lot of the time, the original meaning is lost in dubs. But we also must understand that dubs are made to appeal to western, particularly American, children in particular and some references need to adhere to what they know, not a culture far beyond their borders. I recommend subtitles for an older audience.

  4. Mushi-shi is undoubtedly excellent and a beautiful place to start, but the greatest series in this one’s humble opinion are:

    Cowboy Bebop
    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    Hyouge Mono
    Samurai X (OVA Series)
    Legend of the Galatic Heroes
    Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

    All of them a great place to start… ‘cept Higurashi, don’t come to that without exposure to the genre…

    …and all those fans above of FMA:B… the first series was better. Brotherhood tries to redeem characters who are irredemeemable and it just weakens the story and characterisation by trying… that’s not to say it’s a bad series… it just went in the wrong direction.

    • Adnan Bey

      I liked Mushi-shi but I think I preferred Kino’s Journey. Both are incredibly similar to each other though and certainly comparable. I disagree about Brotherhood of course, I think it was a fantastic Anime and one of my favorites. I don’t remember anyone being redeemed…

  5. I bought Pani Poni Dash on a whim and loved it. The whole thing is packed with cultural references, often to other anime and the DVD allows you to turn on annotations which point them out.
    Really handy.

  6. Ghost In The Shell, Akira, Evangelion, Dragonball, Howl’s Moving Castle, Gundam Wing….it’s a good start

  7. Neon Genesis Evangelion – The best deconstruction of the mecha genre, but when will it have a coherent ending? Maybe the movies…

    • MelonKake

      It’s already had a range of endings and will have more. You’re looking at a number of continuities. Tie the TV series with End of Evangelion and you’ve got a coherent whole. Well, as coherent as NGE will ever get, and deliberately so. The manga is hugely recommended but slightly different to the tv show narrative.

      The Rebuild movies head off in a different direction, particularly with 2.22. The third has thrown everyone for a loop so we have to see whether the fourth and final (?) will fix things up satisfactorily. Maybe Anno will redeem himself. [Not mentioning the idea that the films are a sequel to the tv].

      But the point of NGE is not the mecha. It’s the characters. It’s the flaws. It’s the emotional abuse children by parents. It’s… well, I could go on. It’s a stunning piece of work that easy to get lost in, repeatedly.

  8. Bettie East

    I am looking forward to seeing Attack on the Titan!

    • Adnan Bey

      It’s one hell of a good Anime. I loved it. The only downside is that it is not yet complete but the second season is on its way!

  9. I haven’t seen many of these, but I wouldn’t recommend Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo to someone as a first anime, I think it would turn them off and I don’t consider it an example for what can make anime great personally.

    I’d probably recommend Gintama if they’re looking for something light, parodical, with a sarcastic insight to Japanese culture.

    • Adnan Bey

      I would recommend many of them but if you’ve already started getting into Anime, then you’re probably in the clear and can go at your own pace.

  10. The Black butler musical was also really good! You could watch the entire thing on youtube… highly recommended for Black butler fans

  11. DClarke

    A long article that didn’t feel long! I think that you treated the material well and gave the reader quite a wide and thoughtful selection. I also like the conversational style.

    • Adnan Bey

      I’m glad you liked the conversational style. I debated whether to put it at all since most articles are written professionally but I thought since I’m writing something called Anime for Dummies, it was best to talk casually, like everyone were my buddies.

  12. A very interesting and thorough article. I have found a lot of “what to watch” articles in general on anime tend to get very (for lack of a better, or existent, word) “Otakuish. When I was younger I asked many what anime to watch (not understanding Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z were indeed from Japan) and I got a lot of suggestions of anime filled with Japanese jokes and cultural references which for a beginner is kind of a turn off when you don’t get the joke and the episode seems to be a boring amount of talking (case in point for myself: Lucky Star). However though many put down series dubs, the one for me that made me enjoy anime was Digimon (once I knew it was an anime). Filled with western references and jokes it made me laugh and I still got the more in-depth serious issues that are universal to human beings. As far as introductory anime go, that for me was the best route, along with silent anime shorts like “Robot Carnival” and the works of Miyazaki. Later learning much more of Japanese culture I definitely have enjoyed anime far more, but those original half-and-half westernized anime actually helped a lot, so I’m glad people can still thank them for being introduced to an untapped world of amazing animation and stories.

    • Adnan Bey

      Unfortunately you’re right. Many Anime fans bank on the ignorance of starters. Meaning many use very ‘Otaku’ terms and references to appear smart and hope that appearing smart will give them credibility. I have seen it happen many times, especially online.

      I personally believe dubs are the best way to start Anime, subs are for those who are in it for the long haul, who really wish to invest time in Anime and watch. The gateway for me was Pokémon but only in the sense that I had no clue it was Anime. The first Anime I watched with full knowledge of what it was (and it’s not on this list) is Shaman King. Miyazaki is the first movie I watched and holy crap, Princess Mononoke is still a masterpiece.

  13. IRBurnett

    Awesome article. Great overview of anime as a form in general, and some really interesting analysis of each individual genre.

    I personally found the moments of childishness and lightheartedness in Fullmetal Alchemist actually enhanced the anime. As you say, there’s some nightmarish stuff that’s explored, and to me the characters’ constant return to optimism said something about human will, perseverance and coping with trauma.

    • Adnan Bey

      I appreciate that you see the good in it. I mentioned the childishness, in part, because when my brother and I introduced my mother to FMA:B, she loved it all (and she doesn’t like Anime at all) but had a gripe with the childishness. I know every fan I talk to has that same problem so I knew it was worth pointing to. But in reality, it does serve a good purpose. Perhaps my problem is with the timing of some placements.

  14. There’s an intuitions worth of information here and preset grammar to accompany any legible descriptions thereof . This is a relief . So I admit I will be reading on via screenshot to further educate myself and move along in the ranks

  15. Jeff MacLeod

    This was informative and well-done. You’ve inspired me to give manga a second look.

  16. Ruben B

    Great article, love the insight into the different genres of anime. I believe there is one important genre you forgot to mention – sports. There are great sports anime such as Prince of Tennis, Captain Tsubasa, Kuroko no Basket, Hajime no Ippo or even Initial D (can be considered sports???).

    Some other recommendations I would say School Rumble for comedy, it is just funny and innocently silly and dunno why loved Hana Yori Dango which is an old shojo anime with not my favorite type of artwork but the romance story is just great with loads of twists (think soap opera style).

    Viewers beware, after watching hundreds and hundreds of anime series, there is alot of bad ones out there, so don’t be discouraged if you see something that was crap, as there are great masterpieces out there, many of which are mentioned in this article (love FMA, Another, Death Note and Attack on Titan).

  17. Adnan Bey

    Unfortunately, sports is one genre I never got into. All I ever watched was Galactic Football and I was not invested enough to see the story or the characters and make a judgment. Hopefully, your comment suffices. For comedy, I myself would’ve loved to recommend The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya but it was probably not a good idea. Best watched after the genre of comedy has been entered.

    Absolutely right. Some are crap. I remember watching Sword Art Online… in my opinion it was a major disappointment and I’ve had to clash with diehard fans of it.

    Another is incredible. Loved it.

  18. Macross Plus, the four part story with the test pilots and returned friend is a great introduction, great playing of the rivalry between old friends and great twist with technolgy

  19. Michaud

    1. Samurai Champloo. Think of Cowboy Bebop in 17th Century Japan. Brilliant 22-part series, funny and tragic and utterly satisfying. Weird and completely intentional anachronisms only add to the enjoyment.

    2. Anything at all by Studio Ghibli. Fabulous stories and vivid animation that makes even the better Disney & Pixar stuff look lame, shallow and overegged. My favourite:My Neighbour Totoro, closely followed by Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service. And Ponyo of course, and Princess Mononoke. And Spirited Away and…

    Just get them and watch them.

    • Adnan Bey

      Something about Samurai Champloo repelled me. I much prefer Cowboy Bebop. As for Studio Ghibli, I think it’s safe to say the Ghibli movies work ninety percent of the time to get someone into Anime.

  20. I tend to be a shojo fan, but my top five are a mix:

    “Azumanga Daioh” — Funny! (No romance, except for an unrequited schoolgirl crush on another schoolgirl)

    “Gravitation” — Gay male romance, but a little slapsticky…nonetheless I was transfixed.

    “Claymore” — A story about female warriors (they call them silver-eyed witches) who kill off demons in rustic villages. So political, evil and beautiful. (No romance here.)

    “Please Teacher” — If you like the dorky guy/hot chick scenario, this is really the only one that made me laugh.

    “Jyu-Oh-Sei (Planet of the Beast King)” — This action-packed anime is about a 13-year-old boy sent to a prison planet and most defeat several brutal tribal warlords to become the Beast King and win his freedom. Lots of violence but intelligent, too.

  21. Star Jacks

    I liked Paranoia Agent by the late Kon Satoshi.

  22. SameDays

    Ninja Scroll is amazing.

  23. Augustine

    I’m not a huge fan of anime…although I’ll give the suggestions in the article a go (I may have been watching the wrong ones!!)

    One exception that I loved is Serial Experiments Lain. Really hard to describe it. I cant remember much about it except it starts with a school girl receiving an email from another girl who had recently committed suicide, and things get increasinly strange from thee. It had a very eery, Twin Peaks-esque feel to it, and it had some beautiful and mesmerising imagery.

    In fact I might have to hunt it down and watch it again!

    • Adnan Bey

      It’s an Anime I have to consider watching. I got into the medium few years back and I never left. Serial Experiments sounds great. Depending on which ones you’ve been watching, you may’ve watched the wrong ones. Decide your favorite genre and watch according to what I stated above and see what happens.

  24. My first foray into anime was Death Note through my teenage daughter who became anime obsessed around the age of 12.

    I’d say to ease someone into anime, it might be worth watching some Ghibli such as My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away.

    My personal favourites are Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Mawaru Penguindrum and Durarara!!
    Although I think some may not like the way that Penguindrum messes with your head!

    • Adnan Bey

      Same story as my mother, who started Anime with Death Note as well. Death Note is one of the few Anime that appeals to just about anyone. FMA: B is a very good one to start as well.

  25. Just get Berserk on DVD.

  26. Celement

    Here’s a simple beginner’s selection. Films as they are shorter dip into anime.
    1. The Castle of Cagliostro
    2. Nausicaä: Of The Valley Of The Wind
    3. Ninja Scroll
    4. Akira
    5. Grave Of The Fireflies
    6. Perfect Blue
    7. Ghost In The Shell
    8. Spirited Away
    9. Blood: The Last Vampire
    10. Appleseed: Ex Machina

    • I have to give my vote to Nausicaa. That is by far the best (and most underrated) of all the Ghibli films!

    • Adnan Bey

      Of those ten, my vote goes to Spirited Away. Without a doubt one of Miyazaki’s greatest masterpieces.

  27. For straight film anime: anything Studio Ghibli – just type it in Wikipedia and go wild, Akira (classic as you can get), Paprika, Up on the Poppy Hll (for you guardian readers ;), Summer wars, Tokyo Godfathers, The girl who leapt through time… Too many to recommend, enjoy.

    • Dale Hendricks

      Perfect Blue is another Satoshi Kon classic that you must definitely watch! Black Swan may reject that it was influenced by that film but you can clearly see similarities between the two

  28. K-ON! Monster and K-ON! for the complete anime experience.

  29. Problem with recommending anime to anyone is that there are thousands of them, and are often completely different from each other. And any ‘beginner’ guide that doesn’t mention Naruto, Bleach or One Piece is likely more a list of ‘cool’ anime rather than classic.

    That said – my personal recommendations would include:

    Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)

    • depends what the audience is many recommended here are mainly directed towards the male audience but there are many anime that have huge female following such as typical josei like Loveless

      • Adnan Bey

        Black Butler has a huge female audience. And I can’t see Another or Ouran being directed mainly towards boys. Chuunibyou is directed towards both, I think.

    • Adnan Bey

      True, and that’s why I mentioned Naruto in particular. I couldn’t talk much about the other Big Three because I’m not as familiar with them. But I daresay Naruto is enough.

  30. JackIee

    Neon Genesis Evangelion is the first anime I suggest for a newcomer. Extremely popular, massive budget movie adaptations, more depth than most other anime, and a trend setter. A seminal work.

    • It is sprawling and magnificent but not a place I’d advise anyone who’s never watched anime to begin. Find out what someone likes in western tv and advise on that. Comedy? Gintama. Drama? Clannad & After Story. Action? Cowboy Bebop / Samurai Champloo. Seen all the Studio Ghibli films? Wolf Children, Summer Wars, etc.

    • universal

      Evangelion is great but maybe not for newcomers, especially the last part of the series! With you mentioning Naruto I’d also have to say Bleach and Eden of the East, both really accessible for new fans.

  31. Laurence

    Keep in mind that Sturgeon’s Law applies: 90% of anime is crap.

  32. Ya gotta love the classics: Doraemon, Lupin, and yes, Astro Boy.

    A nostalgic favourite is Chibi Maruko chan – you’d think a 9 nine year old girl’s life would make for boring telly (or manga), but it’s got humour, heart, and great characters. Don’t think it’s ever been released in English though, and sadly my much cherished manga copies of the series have long turned moldy.

    • Adnan Bey

      I only ever saw the recent remake of Astro Boy, the movie. But it did get me interested in the original Anime. I’ll have to give it a try.

  33. The three best are: Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist (Brotherhood) and Steins:Gate

  34. Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. Same director. Love the genre mashing of space opera/cool jazz and samurai/hip hop.

  35. The trouble with anime is that you never know when there’s going to be a pervy flash of schoolgirl knickers in a seemingly innocent context – just check out Kiki’s Delivery Service.

    • It’s called “pansu”, this cartoon titillation, and it ranges from innocent and even a bit charming (as in Kiki’s) to extremely annoying and stupid (cartoon knickers get old fast) to flat out pedo-bait. There is good anime that has pantsu, but as a rule, it’s a sign of a poorly done anime that has little else to offer.

    • Adnan Bey

      Kiki’s Delivery Service is mostly innocent with this though and easy to overlook. In fact, I never noticed it until you pointed it out. Miyazaki movies in particular are fairly innocent with this sort of thing. It’s Anime like Blood Lad and Black Butler you gotta watch out for.

    • I never really interpreted it as perverted. In fact I barely thought about it at all. I see your point, however.

  36. If I was recommending an anime to someone who had never seen one before, I would choose Revolutionary Girl Utena. It’s not too long, as to daunt a beginner, it shows off the advantages of using anime as a medium (it’s one of those anime that could never have been live-action), it has a great story with a wonderful pay-off at the end, and the beginning is funny enough that it helps get people hooked. And considering it left most of it’s viewers with new outlooks on selfishness, love, bravery and many other parts of the human condition, it would certainly be worth it in the end for the viewer.

    • Adnan Bey

      I’ll add it to my list of Anime to watch. Thanks.

    • I’d also recommend Utena, but I would not recommend that to a beginner, if only because Utena goes far and beyond it’s genre (and in fact, I’d argue that Utena is to magical girls as NGE is to mecha anime). I’d set someone on something like Yuki Yuna is a Hero, if only to get them up to speed on the current trend of anime.

  37. Aaron Hatch

    I cannot choose between Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood one which one is my favorite anime. There both great in their own ways.

  38. YsabelGo

    For me, Rumiko Takahashi introduced me to anime. In Canada, there is a channel called YTV that played anime at night, and I would watch Inuyasha. I would also go to a DVD rental store and watch Ranma 1/2. Those were good times!

  39. samarth

    where is code geass

    • Adnan Bey

      I wanted to mention it but I considered it too similar to Death Note in some ways, so I preferred talking about the latter. Mind you, Code Geass is still an excellent piece of work.

  40. There’s a lot of dross out there (and some dodgy stuff too). For series – which require a greater investment in time and money) I’d recommend:

    1. Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: A two-season-and-a-film series set in the world of Ghost In The Shell but not following the films continuity. Arguably some of the best viewing out there. Known as GIT:SAC amoongst the enlighteened

    2. Eden of the East

    3. Trigun

    4. Cowboy Bebop

    Watch out for anything by the “Production I.G” studio – they produced the GIT:SAC series and are generally excellent.

  41. WhereItsAt

    “Space Brothers” is my favorite. The younger Nanba brother Hibito is currently an astronaut preparing to go on a space mission but the elder Nanba brother Mutta has always wanted to stay a step ahead of his younger brother, but ran into trouble after getting fired from his job. He is soon chosen to join an astronaut program and overcomes hardships of JAXA’s continuous tests. This story is about how Hibito is supportive of Mutta to achieve his dream. It’s touching.

    • Adnan Bey

      The last Anime about brothers I saw was Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This would be a nice one to follow up with. I’ll look into it.

  42. Skidmore

    Controversial suggestion: Avatar, the Last Airbender. That would be the animated series, not the movie. The reason the suggestion is controversial is that Avatar isn’t anime. It was written and laid out by Americans, in English. The style is anime. Mako’s role as General Iroh just by itself makes the series worth watching, but it’s as good as any ‘real’ anime out there.

    • Adnan Bey

      For people who want to start watching Anime but are not as familiar with its style, Avatar: The Last Airbender (the movie is horrible imo) is a great place to start. But if someone doesn’t watch animated mediums in general, Avatar as well as Anime may be difficult to pick up, especially since Avatar is directed primarily towards kids.

      ps. Loved Iroh.

  43. Just finished watching Ouran High School Host Club, nothing highbrow, just fun.

    • Adnan Bey

      I agree. It’s a fun Anime to watch, not to expect something big and epic. For those who want fun and humor, I would recommend it and then follow up with the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

  44. Ryan Walsh

    Definitely a great guide to those who need help regarding anime!

  45. Millicent

    Good place to start in terms of manga animations is to start with the basics so I recommend Naruto, Bleach and One piece, Fairy Tail for boys, Ouran High school host club, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge Sword Art Online for girls.

    For more grown up manga animation – xxxHolic (which is not x-rated), Kuroshitsuji – for those who are British and Death Note because it is and always will be my favourite.

    • Adnan Bey

      Agreed. Though I am not British and still enjoyed Black Butler (minus the Shota implications.) Death Note is just incredible.

  46. No mention of Afro Samurai? The polt is not hugely complex but the animation and voice acting more than make up for it, you can’t go wrong with Samuel L Jackson as the lead and his invisible friend. For beginners I also recommend Cowboy Bebop and then go on to Samurai Champloo which has one of the best soundtracks I have heard made by the brilliant Nujabes. If you want something shorter then Sword of the Stranger is a good film and Armor Hunter Mellowlink is a good OVA. I have heard that legend of the galactic heroes is some sort of amazing epic but it is pretty heavy so you might want to leave that for later.

    • Adnan Bey

      Eh… I heard a lot of good things about Afro Samurai but the first episode threw me off. I’ll have to give it another go. Then again, I think Cowboy Bebop is mainly out of nostalgia. Newcomers may not necessarily like it for the same reasons others did.

  47. Mikael Sior

    Naoki Urasawa’s Monster is all you need.

    • Adnan Bey

      I’m in the middle of Monster and currently loving it. It’s a great experience.

    • serenity

      Monster is just an incredible piece of work and it had me absolutely hooked, to the extent I sought out the manga and even waited for the rumoured US film adaptation with anticipation (and relief when it didn’t happen).

    • Naoki Urasawa is literally a genius. I’ve never seen any anime of his stuff but his (latest?) manga ‘Billy Bat’ is phenomenal

  48. Chase Beltran

    Some of my favorites anime for dummies include;

    Serial Experiments Lain: A cyberpunk horror mystery so convoluted even the creators argue about what it really means.

    Yakitate Japan!: It’s about a kid with really warm hands. Who bakes bread. And it is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

    Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Called “the Japanese Babylon 5” by some. An epic space opera following the leaders of two warring space nations.

    Planates: Garbage men (and women) in near Earth orbit. Gorgeous and touching.

    Samurai Champloo: Feudal Japan with a hip-hop soundtrack.

    Initial D and Wangan Midnight: Car porn, pure and simple.

  49. I love Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Death Note! Also, the first Fullmetal Alchemist is also a great one to watch if you’re starting out. Even though it deviates away from the manga, it is still such a great watch. It really focuses on character development whereas Brotherhood is more focused on action. Also, if you are into shoujo anime’s, I recommend watching Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama!

    • Adnan Bey

      I heard about Maid sama but I haven’t watched it yet. My brother has though. As for Brotherhood, I personally put it over the original Anime series.

  50. I really enjoyed this article. It did a really good job of explaining what anime is without alienating those who might not have as much experience.

    I don’t think it’s as well known, but Welcome to the NHK was a really great anime for me. It’s a slice of life about an agoraphobic young man and the woman who takes it upon herself to help him. It surprised me with it’s comedy and it’s heartfelt moments.

    Personally, I’m more of a manga person. Some really good ones are Cage of Eden, Blush-DC., Gangsta., and Nozoki Ana.

  51. OutofHere

    Aa rough list of stuff worth watching.

    One Piece
    Bodaciouse Space Pirates
    Tiger & Bunny
    Last Exile
    House of Five Leaves
    Saumurai Champloo
    Ghost in The Shell Stand Alone Complex
    Sound of the Sky
    Sherlock Hound

    Dozen’s of others worth watching as well.

    • Adnan Bey

      Ah, Last Exile. That is a gem rarely mentioned. Loved it. Never watched the second season though. I am worried it’ll ruin what the first was.

  52. Both versions of Full Metal Alchemist are superlative. The first one is somewhat less sophisticated than the latter, but is still an amazingly woven, complex story, informed by rich characterization and the remarkable incidental music by Ooshimi Michiru. It has English dubbed versions, having run on the US Cartoon Network. The second version is closer to the original manga. The characters are a bit older and more complex, and the plot is more involved.

    Other worthy endeavours: Gosick (Gothic); Mysterious Girlfriend X (a bit kinky, but warm and humane which makes up for it); Space Brothers (they actually strive for good science in it!); and the hilariously kinky Ixion Saga. Oh, and Sword Art Online.

    • Adnan Bey

      I agree completely about Brotherhood but I must disagree about Sword Art Online. I felt it introduced a nice plotline and a worthy message and then it became more about the romance rather than the world as a whole. But to each his own. I know a lot who would send me to the gallows for that statement. 😀

    • I think Full Metal Alchemist the first series is one of my favourite animes of all time. But would be willing to give Brotherhood a try.

  53. AdamThePhantump

    I think Pokemon is the best one because it’s the longest one running with the same main characters, Ash and Pikachu. I may be biased cause I am a pokemon but I stand by my comment.

  54. Meed something episodic, some giant robots and some teenage romance:
    I would just say Evangelion for the huge shadow it’s left over all TV anime since, but the big screen remakes do it justice and may be more beginner friendly.

    Toradora (2008): one of the better high school romance series, with a highly episodic structure, some great characters and cliffhangers aplenty.

    Angel Beats (2010): glorious visual set pieces, an interesting concept and some great comedy moments. Bit heavy on the melodrama, and felt slightly too short.

    Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann(2007): Gainax’s tribute to the 70’s glory days of super robots, laden with style and tropes played up to their most parodic and overblown.

  55. I would recommend something that the beginners are already interested in, from a genre point of view, but i would be careful to avoid anything that requires too large an investment of time. So probably i would suggest some of the shorter OVAs and movies to start with. There are some extremely popular anime shows with episode numbers that run into the hundreds. There is also a lot of crap out there, which often get high praise from the otaku but are in fact pretty poor when you take an objective point of view.

    Mushishi is the stand out to me, but it is one that suffers from “first half so-so, second half outstanding” in terms of episode balance. You might lose interest after half a dozen episodes, although you can dip in and out in any order as it does not have a linear story arc. It should be said that it is one of the few anime series i have seen that is utterly devoid of any anime stereotypes so probably is a good introduction; visually it is stunning.

    Personal favourites include: Mushishi, Planetes (Sci-Fi, again suffers from first half so-so, second half outstanding), Nodame Cantabile (Classical Music Comedy/Drama, which has not been picked up for a western market but the fansubs are well worth tracking down), Patlabor (Action Comedy/Drama, the original TV series),

    • Adnan Bey

      I quite liked Mushishi but I liked Kino’s Journey more.

      • Solomon

        Mushishi is a beautiful, hauntingly illustrated and scored series. It is so far my top favorite anime series, even better than my previous fav, Cowboy Beepbop. Both series have fully fleshed out worlds that help immerse the viewer and the suspension of disbelief just comes by it self, effortlessly. In the zany gag manga genre, I loved one I used to watch in France whose french title was “Le college fou, fou”. I also watched in France a detective manga which was equal parts noir and slapstick madness, called “Nicky Larson” (again, this was the French title). Both were awesome. One anime film I loved was a crazy si-fi slapstick film called “Project Ako”. So kinetic, so detailed and insanely funny, a sort of Evangelion-on-acid.

    • Agreed, Patlabor is quality. In the late 90s I found a couple of bootleg Patlabor videos and OVAs in a skeezy video shop and watched them all in a weekend. The storytelling, the atmosphere, the execution… it was seriously addictive. Each time I was aware an episode was about to end, I kept wishing it wouldn’t. You start to really emotionally invest in these characters and isn’t that a mark of a great anime?

      Now that I’m all nostalgic about it, I should look to getting the DVDs…

    • “i would be careful to avoid anything that requires too large an investment of time”

      For a total beginner, this is good advice, certainly. But once past that, there is nothing quite as satisfying as getting caught up with a very long epic story. Watching the first 200 episodes of One Piece, and then sticking with it right up to episode 470, are some of the best times I have had behind a screen. The quality is quite consistent too, it’s not with long stretches of crap or filler.

  56. Pretty solid. I know it’s subjective, but I much prefer Toradora! or Clannad for romance over Chunibiyo. Chunibiyo just had so little in the “romance” department. It was endearing, had great character development, and a decent plot, but there was so little romance. It’s feels like 80% comedy/slice of life, and 20% romance, in my opinion.

    • Adnan Bey

      For Chuunibyou, it depends how it’s looked at. A lot of the character development is built around their love interest, effectively shooting its romantic dedication up to fifty percent. A lot of the later plots would not take place if not for the romantic relationship. It’s more of a ‘life-with-the-partner than a I-hope-I-score-that-girl sort of thing.

  57. Georgianna Weatherly

    Don’t forget the movies! There is a fantastic range, from action movies like the Lupin III series (Miyazaki’s Castle of Cagliostro stands out), dystopian sci-fi such as Akira or Metropolis (don’t expect Fritz Lang), through to light comedies such as “Ah My Goddess!”, “Love Hina” or the bizarre (and very long running) gender bending comedy “Ranma 1/2”.

    Maybe it is my age, but the film I go back to most is Miyazaki’s “Porco Rosso” a delightful film about a pig who pilots a flying boat in the 1930s Adriatic.

  58. Daziigirl

    Great list, I agree with a lot of the recommended animes! Although I still think Tokyo Ghoul should be on the list too haha

  59. Really great article! Super informative, and it had a lot more anime examples than I thought it would have, to be honest. Gave me a second opinion on Attack on Titan, Deathnote, and Black Butler, all of which I was exposed to briefly but never got past the first episode. I was surprised that there was no mention of Soul Eater, a class anime in my opinion. Still, fabulous information given here!

    • Adnan Bey

      Soul eater was good but I didn’t put it because a part of it is inconclusive. Better to follow to manga for a conclusive storyline than Soul Eater.

  60. Definitely an accessible list of anime for starters. Because, in truth anime delves in some deep water. So let`s get some practice first, haha!

  61. LangsEnd

    A good list for the most part; just a few things I’d have to disagree with.
    Naruto is way too long for a gateway. Gateway anime, I think, should be short; something to test the waters with. And at 220 episodes, plus over 400 more in Shippuden, Naruto is anything but short. Even FMA is pushing it a little, but that stuff’s just too good and has something for everyone, so it will always get a pass.
    Code Geass I just think there’s a bit of an accessibility issues. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I know there is no legal streaming place for that, and the DVD sets are too hard to come by and typically expensive for even a lot of hardcore fans, at least in my experience.

    • Adnan Bey

      But some will argue that Naruto has something for everyone too. Nauto is one of the Big Three, and you know what they say: No list is complete without those three getting a mention. I picked Death Note over Code Geass, even FMA: B over Code Geass because both have similarities to Code Geass for the same reason you stated. Accessibility issues. I still hold Naruto belongs though.

  62. For one of my friends the first show I had her watch was Ouran High School Host Club and she loved it. She doesn’t really watch anime now but it was a great anime to show her why I like it.

    • YsabelGo

      OHSHC is definitely a nice reverse harem to introduce to girls, especially since it has a mix of romance and comedy!

      • Adnan Bey

        So true. I’m a guy, I watch OHSHC and could tell it was definitely aimed at girls. Still, even then, I could get into it. Somehow, it exceeded its expectations and audience range. That’s why I put it.

  63. Flawfinder

    What, no Fist of the North Star? How can you get into shonen without seeing Fist of the North Star?

  64. Dandylion

    Great article I enjoyed your look at which series should someone try first. For me it is hard to pick FMA:B over FMA. I like them both equally, because the original FMA impressed me over what they were able to accomplish with an incomplete story. In the process making it a bit darker, but still interesting story.

  65. mattdoylemedia

    This is actually a pleasantly surprising list. Normally, a lot of these things contain one or two anime that I really wouldn’t recommend to anyone, or that I find to be highly overrated. Mind you, that’s subjective, so I’m happy to accept that many will disagree with my views on some shows and agree on others.
    For me, I put Bleach above Naruto, but that’s mostly because I saw it first. For Romance, I’d also say Nisekoi instead of Chunibyo, but again that’s in part because I’ve only just started watching Chunibyo (thank you Animax!). To be honest, I’m just glad that you didn’t mention Gurren Lagaan. 🙂

    • Adnan Bey

      Well, I’m glad you liked it. Yes, a lot of these sort of lists mention Anime that are more of a ‘my favorites’ list. I for one did not mention Cowboy Bebop because I liked it. Given my way, I would’ve left it out and was close to doing so but it served as a gateway in the 90s, there’s no reason why not now. Sci-fi is still big. I don’t know about Bleach, a lot put One Piece over both but unfortunately, I don’t know either one well enough to write about them. Chuunibyou is good, loved it.

      • mattdoylemedia

        I can see the appeal in One Piece as far as the manga goes, but just not enough to invest too much time in the anime. For me, part of the joy of anime though is that it’s so varied though. There’s plenty out there for everyone 🙂

        • Adnan Bey

          Very true. That was proven to me when I introduced a friend who’s not into Anime to Death Note. Heck, it was proven to me when I introduced my mom to FMA:B People surprise you.

  66. Personally I wouldn’t start someone out with Chuuni. There’s a certain level of autism a newbie should have to deal with in a romance heroine, and Chuuni turns it up to 11 and keeps going into infinity. The rest of the list is fairly solid.

    • Adnan Bey

      That’s exactly why I think it’s good. Chuunibyou has something for everyone. If you think it’s immature, you’ll love the main character Yuuta. If you like the immaturity, you’ll love Rikka. Chuunibyou is more a romance than immaturity, it just exists for nostalgic and comedic purposes, adding some color to what was otherwise a purely romantic story. That is why I hold that Chuunibyou is the best one to start romance with. I know a lot of people like to talk about Sword Art Online and Clannad but Chuunibyou can really hold a special place in someone’s heart if looked at deeply.

  67. Lazarinth

    The point of a starter anime is to intrigue someone who hasn’t watched anime without putting them off. What’s going to put them off will most likely be determined what their cultural norm is. For instance, if you’re from a culture that’s not used to seeing sexual situations in cartoons, ecchi anime might scare them off. If you cross this philosophy with a knowledge of an individual’s interest then any number of shows could be considered as good starter anime. IMO Your post should have been titled; Popular Anime by Genre.

    • Adnan Bey

      That’s a fair criticism. The way I see it, when we get into culture, that’s like saying British people would love Black Butler and Germans would love Monster. I think it depends more of how open people are when they watch. Anime, being inherently Japanese most of the time, would require a certain sense of openness before watching for anyone. Most Anime take place in Japan with Japanese norms.

  68. lacieroseve

    If you will be talking about anime series under romance, I think it would have been best if you have put a series. You said so yourself that this series glorifies immaturity. There are may series under romance in which the characters mature over time and that is all because they fall in love. Why not have series like Kimi ni Todoke or Tonari no kaibutsu-kun be set in that genre instead?

    • Adnan Bey

      Because I could very well argue that as Chuunibyou goes on, the immaturity does develop in a way. Not completely maybe, but still developed. It’s more of a halfway thing, which I consider better than ‘immature becomes mature.’ That is why I picked Chuunibyou. A lot of people think it doesn’t belong but I still, till now, hold that it does.

  69. mekakushimegane

    I started of with Death Note and then I hopped onto another anime called, ‘Detective Academy Q” then many others. I used to hate Naruto when I was 7 or 8 but when I watched it again when I was 13, I LOVED it. So yeah…

    • Adnan Bey

      Well, that makes sense. Naruto was targeted to 13 year olds anyway. Strangely, my 9 year old sister loves it so everyone is different.

  70. icysquirrel

    I don’t really think these is a particular anime that people “should” start with, long as its anime and they are intrigued what dose it really mater if they didn’t see dragonball, Naruto or bebop.

    XD black butler as historical fiction LOL.

    • Adnan Bey

      That’s why I made this list. It depends what they are intrigued by and people’s intrigue is decided mostly be genre, therefore I split it into genres and picked Anime for each one.

  71. mattdoylemedia

    As a side thought, how about the works of Mamoru Hosoda? Personally, I’d place Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Wolf Children and his work on the Digimon Movies as way above most things. I know it’s not popular, but outside Monoke, SPirite Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, I don’t really rate Studio Ghibli and kidna thought that Mamoru Hosoda was far better at family friendly stuff.
    I’d also add Digimon Tamers in there. In my opinion, by far the best of the Digimon Franchise and well worth a view.

  72. Jiraiyan

    I agree that starting with a long ongoing series like One Piece can be a daunting task. However, while I started with Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon like most American kids, I found reading One Piece from the beginning (back when it was in 400+ chapters range) was not as bad as I assumed.

  73. You posted most of the animes I watched. I still have many to watch. I watch anime when people recommend them, now I know what to watch.

  74. Wow. This is a very insightful, detailed and above all helpful list. I was actually reading this article more out of curiosity than interest in watching a new anime– but now I find myself wanting to watching Cowboy Bepop and Attack on Titan. I have watched some anime before, my favorite series being Trigun, but have found my interest reignited by this article. Thanks!

  75. ajester

    Historical fiction and you put Black Butler? What about Ruruoni Kenshin? That at least has actual events and a main character that is very remarkable.

    Other than its a pretty good write up.

    • Adnan Bey

      Funnily, I debated over whether to include Black Butler at all but I think it goes well in the category. It is both Historical Fiction and immensely popular.

  76. When I was young and I watched Pokemon, I had no idea it was an anime or what anime even was. I would watch Naruto and Bleach on Cartoon Network and thought the style of animation and drawing was different in a good way. I can’t remember how I began to watch other anime, but I know I just began to search for anime that had a plot that coincided with my interests.

    I like comedy and I like romance, so watching Ouran Highschool Host Club was enjoyable. From there, I jumped to Fruits Baskets that was romantic somewhat and funny, but also was really touching.

    I think finding an anime in a genre you like for any kind of show is a good way to start. It’s especially easier watching an anime that’s 12 to 24 episodes long, better than something that’s 200 eps long already because that can be intimidating. I began rewatching Bleach and honestly, stopped after episode 70. It’s good, that’s not the problem, but just too long.

    Now having watched anime for so many years, I’ve really expanded on my taste. Attack on Titan is a good start for someone new to anime because it has such shock factor that you can’t stop after one episode. You get so into the story with some anime you forget it’s a Japanese animation and that you can’t even understand what is going on without reading subtitles. I believe you aren’t really into anime until you’re no longer bothered by subtitles. The story is so good, you don’t mind reading, just look a good book.

    My recommended start list is pretty mainstream, ultimately. I would say:

    Attack on Titan
    Ouran Highschool Host Club
    Fruits Basket
    Death Note (didn’t enjoy much but, it helped me get into more psychological anime, such as Psycho Pass)
    Any Studio Ghibli film, such as Spirited Away or Castle in the Sky.

    Basically, my list is straight out of a Cartoon Network lineup from years ago. It was where I started my love of anime so, I’m sure it would help others get into it as well.

    • Adnan Bey

      I’m the same. I watched Pokémon not knowing what Anime even was. The first Anime I watched knowing full well it was Anime was Shaman King. Oban Star Racers, and then Naruto. Naruto opened the way for many others. The ride has been enjoyable thus far and I’m still gearing up for a more intense ride.

      I might give Fruits Basket a try. I’m not into the whole romance thing to be honest but Ouran did get to me so maybe this will too.

  77. Whenever someone new to the anime world asks me what to watch I make sure not to recommend super long series. I mean, yes, there are countless stunning series that everyone has to see, but keep in mind that it’s kinda difficult to watch One Piece as your first anime. I normally just stick with series that are up 25 episodes long.
    You got some nice titles there. Big up for that.

    • Adnan Bey

      The only particularly long series I recommended is Naruto and I recommended Naruto because, honestly, it’s one of the Big Three. Not recommending it would’ve raised some eyebrows too.

  78. I’m surprised Code Geass isn’t on the list! When it comes to recommending my friends an anime to watch, you hit the mark with Death Note. Death Note is great for newcomers to watch who don’t have any understanding of how anime works.

    • Adnan Bey

      Code Geass and Death Note are similar in tactical moves and maneuvers, the difference is Code Geass shows this with artilelery and war and Death Note is crime/detective. Since I debated between the two, I picked Death Note.

  79. I love all of these anime! Dragon Ball Z is one of my favorite animes of all time. I love Black butler too. All these anime are so good and should definitely be watched.

  80. I’d argue against Chuunibyou as a romance anime gateway. Chuunibyou as you’ve said would probably not appeal due to the immaturity present. Maybe Clannad would be decent, if they can get past the first season of almost nothing happening.

    You’ve also missed the Genre of slice-of-life. This may be another genre to consider. I’d perhaps recommend Hyouka here. Or maybe Barakamon.

    Also Sci-fi can also have Steins;Gate tagging along.

    • Adnan Bey

      But that’s the thing. Some people like immaturity. In Chuunibyou, it has a bit of both. In fact, the main character is really decent and relatable.

  81. I personally would suggest Berserk it takes place in a great setting with some really quality writing, although it should be said that it is also a very twisted and graphic tale that squeamish people should avoid.

  82. manifest

    You forgot to mention ‘Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – Kono Watashi no Mono Tonare, Yuusha yo Kotowaru!’. anime It was highlight on education and economical genre mixed with medieval fantasy and warfare art which never be found in previous anime trend.
    The story line in manga and light novel version are even more complex. Worth for reading too.

  83. Death Note is so good but there doesn’t seem to be anything like it…

  84. I thought that the list of recommendation were good but I think some important ones were left out, such as psycho-pass which goes into the area of the concept of humanity and moral actions. Also it is in my opinion better not to have people start watching long series like Pokemon because it can put people off from considering watching anime

    • Adnan Bey

      PsychoPass would be an alterntive to FullMetal Alchemist or Death Note with both dealing with moral actions in a way. Plus, dealing too much with the mind can be repelling. It’s sort of why I left Ghost Hound out.

  85. I thought that the list of recommendation were good but I think some important ones were left out, such as psycho-pass which goes into the area of the concept of humanity and moral actions. Also it is in my opinion better not to have people start watching long series like Pokemon because it can put people off from considering watching anime.

  86. One important thing I think you left out was the fact that a lot of these were adapted to anime from manga. You claim that a downside to Naruro is the filler episodes, but what you don’t explain is the reason behind it: the manga doesn’t come out fast enough and they want to match the endings. It also sounds like you’re not being objective enough about these different anime shows in your cons and pros sections. It sounds mostly like your opinion which leaves little room for argument or even forming your own opinion unless you’ve already seen these anime. In addition, a lot of your facts are misleading about the type of fandom and the anime itself. Next time I would act as an instructor rather than a fan of anime because that’s where I think you crossed the line passed objectivity.

    • Adnan Bey

      Well, when it comes to cons and pros, all anyone can be is opinionated. What is wrong to me in Naruto may not hold true for anybody else. They might like the fillers. In fact, I made sure to put the cons first, before the pros, so the readers finishes reading about the Anime with a good taste in his or her mouth. The reason I act more as a fan than an instructor is accessibility in this article’s case. I usually take the impersonal instructive route but this was an exception because when I want to recommend something, I want to be as accessible and informal as possible, talk like we’re all friends and that might help.

  87. One really undervalued category that was missed out was Slice of Life. Quite frankly not as exciting as some of the mainstream anime like Naruto or Bleach, popular classics like Death Note or even uncrowned king level anime like Code Geass. Slice of Life anime as suggested is a SLICE of LIFE. The general depiction of how an everyday life situation, life choice or even lifestyle can be just as interesting simply for the fact that you can relate to it on a familiarity level.
    This category is actually one good way to break away from the stereotypical loss of reality and thus bring crowds of Anime watchers and non-Anime watchers on some middle ground in which both sides can enjoy together.

    If this has peeked your interest I recommend taking a look at ‘Space Brothers’ – a tale of how childhood dreams have caused two brothers to reach different points in their adult life… with the idea that it’s never to late to chase your dream

    • Agree. Many animes on the slice of life category is a worthy watch. Try Barakamon!

    • Adnan Bey

      You are right about Slice of Life but I can explain. Slice of Life is a genre that usually has other genres attached. Chuunibyou and Ouran are Slice of Life and that is EXACTLY why I recommended them in their own genres, because both are accessible in their own way and why one could very well argue that both are excellent gateways for the genres of romance and comedy respectively.

  88. Watched all of the animes you have on your list except for Full Metal Alchemist (I should watch this next) and Chuunibyou. As to comedy, Ouran is one of the most unforgettable I think.

    How about slice of Life?

    • Adnan Bey

      I highly recommend both.

      Like I said to CyrilMedia, Slice of Life is acknowledged in Chuunibyou and Ouran, just not specified to be Slice of Life. Slice of Life is popular because it’s relatable to the audience who goes through similar circumstances every day. It’s like the Anime version of a sit-com. Both Chuunibyou and Ouran are relatable on some level and have powerful elements of Slice of Life. I would’ve recommended The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya but that might be a little too strong for a starter. Best watched after Ouran and Chuunibyou.

  89. I definitely agree with most of these. Actually, I was really excited to see some of my own gateway anime in this list! What I was surprised about was that I never saw Fruits Basket, which is a great example of a show that eases the audience into anime tropes and cultural differences while giving its audience a pretty good laugh.
    Of course, every show has its cons, and Fruits Basket is definitely a show that overdoes the over dramatic in some cases, but as a gateway, it really is a good option.
    I also agree with the person who said ongoing anime aren’t good for a gateway. I started Bleach back before it had 300 episodes, and at the time, it was good, but if I were to start watching it now, I would lose motivation pretty quickly (the plotline also gets pretty weak and repetitive later, or so I hear, so that could have something to do with it). I was late in starting Fairy Tail, as well, and got to about episode 120 before I had to take a very long break. One Piece is way too much to start out with.
    All-in-all though, this is a pretty good list, and I loved reading this article!

    • Adnan Bey

      Generally, you’re all right about long Anime. But I did figure not mentioning one of the big three will get me loads of raised eyebrows. Of course, it seems I’m getting them either way. In Anime, there is no ‘right’
      or ‘wrong.’ When it came to adventure, mine was Shaman King but after that, I took a break from Anime and didn’t get ‘in’ to it until Nauto, which served as a reentering gateway for me. So, I mentioned it.

      • Shaman King was a great anime, I almost forgot about it! Just out of curiosity, did you ever watch Yu Yu Hakusho?
        And I suppose you’re right about the whole raised eyebrows thing. That’s something I didn’t really think of. Naruto was and always will be a great gateway, regardless of length, so I totally agree with that one.

        • Adnan Bey

          Yes, Shaman King was the first Anime I watched from begining to end on tv. Unfortunately, I have not. I meant to once but it was early in my watching career and I was so used to more modern animation so its style threw me off. I’ll get to it eventually.

  90. FMA: Brotherhood is the one that everyone should watch, anime fan or not. It’s intelligent, doesn’t spoon-feed anything to its viewers, doesn’t randomly drop characters into the netherworld, and isn’t ridiculously long (I believe it’s less than 60-70 episodes in total).

    If you’ve watched maybe some anime, I also suggest: Baccano, Samurai Champloo, and Anohana.

    If you’re interested in anime movies, look at names like Miyazaki, Makoto Shinkai, and Mamoru Hosoda.

  91. Oh, and Angel Beats.

  92. Back in the 90’s I was first exposed to anime because my brothers had control of the TV most of the time. They watched a ton of different anime shows, but when I saw Ranma 1/2, I was hooked!

    Ranma is a magna show (which means it was adapted from a comic book) where the main character, Ranma, is a teenage boy who is training in martial arts. During a training session, he and his father fall into cursed springs. Ranma into a cursed spring of a drowned girl, and his father into a cursed spring of a drowned panda. So, whenever Ranma or his dad are splashed with cold water, they turn into a girl and a panda respectively. The show is their adventures to try and lift the curse while continuing some semblance of their previously normal lives.

    What I loved about this show, was while being a little stereotype-y, half of the time, or sometime even more than half, Ranma chose to become a girl to help with whatever situation him and his dad were in. Even though Ranma was a boy, he quickly learned he was strong as a female too, and not just because he could wear sexy outfits.

    Since Ranma, I have always been open to any new anime show, many of which were listed above. The drawing style is always so vibrant and beautiful, it is hard to turn away from.

  93. This is an awesome list, though I would also reccomend some Studio Ghibli films as a good introduction to anime, since they’re so captivating and cute.

  94. Personally, I started out with Fruits Baskets, another slice-of-life shojo anime with complex character development. Not long after I finished the series, however, I started on Ouran High School Host Club.

    However, one drawback the article neglects about Ouran is that the show is a deconstructive criticism of the shojo or romantic comedy genre. This means that much of the comedy that focuses on satirizing romantic tropes will go over the head of someone watching anime for the first time.

    Great list!

    • Adnan Bey

      To be honest, I am not familiar with too many Shojo Anime so this act about Ouran escaped me. I would argue that since Ouran can be enjoyed by newcomers, it is still a worthy gateway into the comedy genre.

  95. I find the end of Deathnote’s second season fascinating- mostly because of what it sets up in the third. Some people hate the third season because L is gone, but I personally love it. While the first two seasons are about the battles between L and Light, the third season is about Light finally going insane. Near is nowhere near as smart as L- but Light still loses in the end. Mistakes he made come past to attack him, and he becomes abusive to Misa, who he’s now using as a toy and a tool. While in the first two seasons, Light and L are morally ambiguous, Light is certainly the villain in the end- and I think that’s why people don’t like it.

    Another great anime is Akame Ga Kill. Though the beginning is rather boring and predictable, there are some fantastic scenes as the plot progresses. It’s also wonderfully emotional, as about 80% of the main characters all die- and even the villains have some emotional death scenes. It does have a little bit more sexualization than I’d like, but the emotion in many of the scenes is just fantastic.

    Awesome list, though- it’s good to see people talk about Fullmetal Alchemist: Brootherhood. That anime remains one of my favorite to this day.

    • Adnan Bey

      Forgive me, my second season, I mean the season with Near. I too love Near and I love the end but some dislike him a great deal. I like that you like it though.

  96. Not that I have a problem with the anime at all, but I’m not sure Cowboy Bebop is a fantastic “Gateway Anime”. As the section made many disclaimers about, a part of what fans love about that show is the nostalgia of it, an aspect that someone completely new to anime would not be able to share in. I think that rather than throw a bunch of disclaimers, it’s alright to say that, while the anime is great, it might not serve best as someone’s first real anime experience. Some of these other recommendations are great though!

    • Adnan Bey

      I agree with you, but as Cowboy Bebop is a starter in and of itself in many respects, I thought I had to at least give it one genre.

  97. Nice article and a great selection of anime chosen to write about. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but another show that’s pretty phenomenal, although a bit different from other anime’s out there, is Monster.

  98. rp92

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, to Death Note! Ouran was also one of my first… and just gets better with every rewatch. Probably also helps that I got older and finally understood a lot of the humor, hah.

    Special A and Kaichou Wa Maid Sama are also cute gateway romance ones.

    Bleach (while it’s getting disappointing now) is also a good starter in place of Naruto if ninjas aren’t quite your thing.

    Durarara!!! is also a good one to move into perhaps after watching one of these… it’s funny, has psychological elements, and has a bit of the supernatural too. 🙂

  99. smarrie

    Did you happen to see that Buzzfeed video on how Americans watch anime for the first time?

  100. Joe Manduke

    I disagree that the original FMA is now “obsolete”. I think it’s clear as an adaptation but the original still has much to offer.

  101. What, no horror? JK! You did cover a lot of the core genres. FMA: Brotherhood seemed a tad specific with Philosophy and War. Maybe just Philosophy or, I know I’ll tick some people off, Steampunk? Also, I would have probably picked Rurouni Kenshin for historical fiction, but that’s just me. Again, I like your list!

    • You say JK, but I believe horror is a critical genre that burgeoning anime fans should have some recommendations for. Personally, I would suggest Hell Girl. The concept is simple: people who are bullied or persecuted in some way sell their souls to a demon in exchange for retribution (or revenge, depending on your point of view). It is a narrative conceit that is relatable, and easily understandable to Western audiences who may feel intimidated by unfamiliar Japanese minutia they perceive in other series. On the feature film side of things, there is Perfect Blue. Satoshi Kon’s work is sometimes considered a bit out there, but seeing how Darren Aronofsky appropriated a number of themes and visual elements from this movie for his own critical and commercial success Black Swan, it is likely that many Americans who have never seen an anime feature before will at least be intrigued by it.

  102. i didn’t think that kuroshitsuji (black butler) would make it. honestly it’s not on death note levels but it does have it’s moderate popularity.

    speaking of the title of this article, kuroshitsuji is the very anime that got me onto the anime road. indeed, to everyone who reads this, avoid S2 by all costs. there is, quite literally, no reason to start (or finish) S2, since Book of Circus, Murder, and soon the next film follow right after episode 15 of S1.

    if you do want to start (or finish) S2, that would be only for one reason – that you finished all of S1 want to see what happened after the ending. one of the possible t theories of why S2 was so bad is because S1 lead off the manga after episode 15 and continued by itself. the ending was great – until money got in the way. fans were so taken by the show that they demanded a S2, and the company agreed to it – so S2 was never meant to even exist. nonetheless, look at your own will – you have been warned.

    • I’ve noticed Black Butler is actually very popular. I didn’t get past the first three episodes when I saw it, just wasn’t really my kind of anime, but I know everyone I talk to has either seen at least some of the anime, or read the manga. A lot of my friends who have only recently started watching anime say the first anime they saw was Black Butler.

  103. Dominic Sceski

    This is very informative! I must say that I am partially disappointed…only because many of the shows you’ve recommended are shows that I’ve already seen! In other words, I was hoping for a new anime I could begin watching. On the bright side, I suppose this means I’m not a “dummy”!

  104. ChristopherKay

    While not really personal favorites, I completely agree that all of these are great shows to help people get into the medium and I echo what other people have said specifically about starting people off that have conclusive endings. Nothing is more frustrating than getting absorbed in a story only to find that the ending either won’t be made for the foreseeable future or doesn’t exist. However, perhaps even more important than that is the fact that almost all of these series have relatively great English dubs. I’ve found that people just getting into the medium can be extremely off-put by having to read the subtitles for a series while watching, and that a great dub will really help to alleviate this frustration.

  105. My friends and I talk about Gateway Anime a lot. We’ve been watching anime since we were kids and we constantly compare our Gateway Anime to the current generation’s Gateway Anime. I’m a little surprised that Sword Art Online, Fairy Tail, or Bleach wasn’t on this list (but that might be because two of those anime are not done yet), though not surprised that Attack on Titan is on the list. Was actually a little startled at first that Cowboy Bebop, Chuunibyou, and even Another was on here.

  106. I still remember the first time I watched Death Note and Cowboy Bebop…Wow! I always considered Cowboy Bebop as an anime that didn’t care as much about popular appeal, as opposed to staying true to its philosophical themes – that’s why it can get boring at times.

    As for comedy I would also recommend a slightly less popular anime, GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka)

  107. I enjoyed all of your recommendations. Dragonball Z and Pokemon were definitely the anime that drew me in, but it wasn’t until I started reading Shonen Jump that I became really involved with both anime and manga. Good article.

  108. I really enjoyed the article. I am in the stage of watching one piece were I have to wait for every new episode to come out so the binge watching has been put to a stop. I have been searching high and low for new (to me) anime to watch and I was so pleased with the breakdown of your article and think this was a greatly needed article for anyone just starting anime or for anime lovers. Thank you!

  109. DustinKop

    I have to to give your list credit for not being entirely STUDIO GHIBLY!! STUDIO GHIBLI!! GREATEST ANIME EVER IS ALWAYS STUDIO GHIBLI!!

    I am more of a man who enjoys OVA’s, there quick and easy to get through and if they tell a complete story in 45 minutes, then you don’t feel like you wasted your time. I think the best way to introduce someone to anime is through shorts, movies and OVA’s because on how well they can tell a story in a short time to grab a persons attention the whole way through.

  110. Emily Deibler

    Great post with some awesome recommendations here! I love FMA:B and Death Note, and I just started Black Butler.

  111. What about Mobile Suit Gundam and its derivatives? There is a lot the mecha genre can offer… Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam (both Universal Century and alternate universe (particularly with the (finally!) American release of Turn-A)), Gurren Lagann, The Big O, Eureka 7…

  112. i think SAO should be on here, but I still agree with your choices, especially Brotherhood, but i think SAO would have been a great choice as it hasn’t ended yet.

  113. For beginners, Inuyasha may also be good as it is such a typical ” Made in Japan” anime. There are very heavy cultural elements being emphasized in the theme and setting. The Japanese interpretation of ” fate” is the one that drove the plot to progress.
    However, it is super lengthy and the romance between Inuyasha and his lovers— his first love who died and his second love who actually has the same soul as his first love….. This setting is so annoying…

  114. Kiritsugu Emiya

    This was so well-written and great recommendations. You really are good at writing, and writing for anime, you have excelled my expectations greatly. Time Alter, Double Accel!

  115. Cool article. It’s funny because I’d recommend a lot of these too, but I wouldn’t expect them to finish haha.

  116. I agree completely with this list. These were some of my first animes as well and they all help get your toes wet into the anime ocean.

  117. Interesting read. However you contradict yourself a few times, such as telling us to watch five episodes of FMA, and if that doesn’t get us into it, watch 2 more. Then your next sentence says drop it if you didn’t get into it after 5.

  118. HoHoHum

    I think you should have picked fruits basket for any romance/comedy. I used to know a lot of young western girls who got really into the manga/anime

  119. Munjeera

    I learned a lot from this article and hope to get into Naruto and the one with the brothers that you mentioned. Thanks!

  120. ThatOneGuy

    The anime that started it all for me was soul eater, although the first few episodes were okoume I watched at least 4 episodes though I started getting into it and I started enjoying it so much that when I finished it I decided to watch more anime and moved into things like fairy tail and assassination classroom and fma brotherhood, so I highly recommend soul eater and to not give up on watching certain amines based on the first few episodes. I also highly recommend sub

  121. A perfect article! I’ve seen most of the above mentioned anime but have you seen Rainbow? If not then please do…it may cause you hell lot of pain but it is a masterpiece!

  122. JC

    I agree with you on pretty much everything. Fairy Tail in my opinion is one of the best starter animes, and I am glad you mentioned it.

  123. Although I have not watched all the anime that are listed in this article I do think Death Note and Naruto are good ones. I’d even add Inuyasha, School Rumble, and Gravitation to the list. I’d also add maybe one for a girls/drama category like Super Gals or Peach Girl.

  124. Another good starter anime is Soul Eater. It’s overall tone is very lighthearted and it’s nothing too difficult to grasp. It does start to get darker as the seasons progress, but that only makes it even better. It was also one of my first animes that I started out with. 🙂

  125. Brad Hagen

    I would also recommend something a bit older like Cowboy Bebop or Trigun. Their animation styles alone hooked me onto this genre.

  126. If you’re going to start watching anime, you show start with Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop, or Trigun. Those were my entire childhood. Then you can move onto the current popular shows like Attack on Titan, Naruto, FMAB, One Piece, etc. I would add Case Closed to this list also. Its still airing and its just as long as One Piece, but the creativity they put into the different cases for each episode always sparks my creative plug.

  127. I have been watching anime for about two years now and I am so glad that I had friends who provided amazing recommendations. My first anime was Death Note and I highly recommend this anime to individuals who enjoy darker storylines. Death Note led to my exploration of other anime, such as Another, Parasite, Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, and Beserk. I’m continuing to explore the anime world and I am open to any recommendations!

  128. Pyper Brown

    I have been watching anime for about two years now and I am so glad that I had friends who provided amazing recommendations. My first anime was Death Note and I highly recommend this anime to individuals who enjoy darker storylines. Death Note led to my exploration of other anime, such as Another, Parasite, Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, and Beserk. I’m continuing to explore the anime world and I am open to any recommendations!

  129. All though Naruto and one piece are the preferred gateway anime one would recommend, they are extremely long. So I would suggest begin with something smaller.Personal favourites are :Steins gate,Baccano,One punch man.

  130. Check introduction: the phrase “realizing it” is repeated twice.
    I totally agree with what you say about not calling anime “a cartoon”.
    I really like the conversational tone you have in your writing and I found it really easy to read.
    I thought it was very useful to have the pros and cons sections for each different genre. Your knowledge on the subject is really diverse and should be acknowledged. If I was talking to someone about how to get into watching anime, I would give them this article to read.

  131. Nice broad cross section of genres. I imagine that this in itself is eye-opening for those new to anime.

  132. jaysongoetzz

    I agree with these picks for the most part, though I feel that Naruto is a pretty heavy pick for a first anime, despite its popularity. There as just sooo many episodes that it might turn off a potential first timer. Great list though otherwise

  133. I love many of these anime, they are a must watch. However, I agree with the latest comment, Naruto might be a pretty heavy pick.

  134. For a beginner, I would never recommend a long epic-style series like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach or Fairytale. It takes a while to get used to the style of narration in anime, and in these, it takes a while to get to the climax of the plot. I made the mistake of recommending Bleach as a starter anime to a friend. She loved it initially but soon grew bored of it because it takes a while to get to the point. We don’t want people to think anime is boring do we! Some other gateway anime that weren’t mentioned here :
    1) Tokyo Ghoul; Gory and fast-paced, this will surely absorb viewers who are interested in dark fantasy and action.
    2) Shigatsu wa kimi no uso: This one is for the music lovers.
    3)Kaichou wa Maid-sama!: For the ones who love rom-coms.
    4) Erased: Similar to death note, htis one can attract the ones who love mysteries and thrillers

  135. I’m glad that you mentioned the pros and cons of many popular shows. I have a soft spot for shows like FMAB, OHSHC, Pokemon, Naruto, etc., but there are definite flaws in the shows, especially since it’s been many years since I’ve watched any of these shows beginning to end. Especially regarding shows like Cowboy Bebop and, even though it wasn’t specifically mentioned, Pokemon, people in their mid-20s have incredibly fond memories of these shows. I watched Cowboy Bebop but was not told to manage my expectations, so I found something a bit lacking when I did watch it. I’ve been a fan of Pokemon for almost as long as I can remember, but when it comes to the anime, the 4Kids dub especially, there are SO many things that probably aren’t going to be people’s cup of tea. Even so, I agree with many of your choices for gateway anime that I would recommend to anyone with a genuine desire to give anime a shot.

  136. madoka magica is a good series for magical girl series

  137. I appreciate the pros and cons you listed, and I like how this article doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    I try to convert people to anime all the time lol and I find the most difficult thing is that most people think of them as “just cartoons” or that they’re “childish/for kids”

  138. Laney Milton

    I had a friend who refused to watch anime because she thought there was no point to the stories. What I did was analyze her favorite TV shows (she watched stuff like The Walking Dead, Criminal minds, etc.) and looked for an anime that would best suit her interest. So one day (when I was able to) I sat her down and made her watch the 1st episode of Tokyo Ghoul. She came to me later that day saying she had already watched like 3 episodes and was hooked. Also, I wouldn’t really choose Naruto as a recommendation for action adventure. I’d probably start them on My Hero Academia but that’s just my preference.

  139. royal_ducthguy

    i would start whit one punch man, that is also where is started, and maybe go back to dragon ball z

  140. Death note has a second season???!!! What!!!! omg where

  141. I would have loved to see a section on Slice of Life anime. Maid-sama! would have been a good one to analyze here.

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