Where do I start? An anime guide for newbies

Updated Oct 12 2015
Being bad ass in Attack on Titan

In 2012, I fell into the rabbit hole that is anime, and I have yet to come back out.

I don't remember why I decided to spend a few hours one night watching English-dubbed Sailor Moon episodes from the '90s. I do know that magical blonde high-schooler lured me into a story-telling art form that I have since fallen deeply in love with. The story arcs, the relationships, the character development, the magic, the grit, the color, the fan art… anime lights my story-loving/comic-nut fire.

So while I'm still fairly new to anime and am definitely not an expert, I'm trying to get more well-rounded in my knowledge. Feel free to follow my breadcrumb trail, Offbeat Homies, and lose yourself to this world forever.

What if I'm intimidated?

Anime has some hurdles to overcome, no doubt. The art takes some getting used to ("god, they must love slo-mo"), the dubs can be really bad, the fan service can be worse ("does every shoujo manga have to have a beach scene?"), and there's enough of a culture barrier that Westerners can feel a bit lost sometimes ("why is he pissed she called him –chan instead of –kun?"). Combine that with the vastness of the anime canon itself, and finding a story you're really into can seem like work.

The boys of Iwatobi Swim Club

But how do I know what I'd even like?

Like I said, Sailor Moon was my gateway drug. It's a well-known example of shoujo, or stories for high-school girls. These shows tend to be light, funny, kind of innocent, and a little romantic. Other common genres are shounen (aimed at young boys with sports, action, and so on), hentai (porn), harem (romance with one boy and multiple girls — expect a lot of fan service), reverse harem (romance with one girl, multiple boys — not as common as harem), yaoi (boy on boy love, but more innocent than hentai), and the less common yuri (girl on girl love, again more innocent than hentai).

Okay, so how do I find it?

Google is your best friend, but I'm sure you already know this. After I finished Sailor Moon (or so I thought), I learned there were episodes that never got released in the U.S. (the Western world being a tad prickly about gender bending). Once I finished those, I wanted MOAR and found r/Animesuggest. Search for a title you've enjoyed, and I guarantee you that some angelic redditor has found at least five other shows they think are similar.

Tumblr is for fandoms. It's a great resource for learning what else the fans of your shows watch, and oh my stars, the fan art can be beautiful.

If you just want to start watching something everyone's heard of, consider the big three: Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece.

Hozuki watches over Japanese hell in Hozuki No Reitetsu.

Now where do I watch it?

I started out watching English-dubbed episodes on YouTube and quickly realized there had to be a better way. There so is! Crunchyroll has some shows for free but I recommend the subscription service, and AnimeFreakTV lets you watch decent quality in exchange for sitting through a few long ads.

Most of the shows on these channels are subtitled, not dubbed, but that's absolutely a good thing. You won't learn Japanese by reading subtitles, but you'll pick up a few words here and there (the first one will be baka, I guarantee it), and you'll probably get an ear for pronunciation, food names, and honorifics.

Newest fave: Yato in Noragami is a rock star.

So… what are your favorites?

So glad you asked! I still gravitate toward shoujo, but I love me some shounen too:

  • Attack on Titan. This dystopian shounen has got a Game of Thrones approach to character development — it's all about the layers, man, and I still have mixed feelings about some of my favorites. Everyone has a likeable quality, but everyone seems to have a demon, too.
  • Durarara! What we have here are some great theme songs, beautiful, gritty, urban art, and multi-layered characters in a very bizarre criminal underworld.
  • Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. This show began life as an advertisement for Kyoto Animation in early 2013. Tumblr went nuts for the 30-second promo, 'shipping the characters left and right before anything much was known about the show. A year later, we have a legitimate season, and it is chockfull of the sort of fan service you'd expect in a story about swimming. Helps that it's funny as hell, too.
  • Fruits Basket. This late '90s manga has a relatively stiff artistic feel, but the loveliness of finding your own family still makes me cry. Def watch the anime if you're not into long reads.
  • Hozuki no Reitetsu. If Adventure Time were made in Japan, this is what it would be. Don't try to make sense of this hell-as-a-government-office arc. Just enjoy the randomness. Start with episode two, if you're unsure.
  • Noragami. Shounen, oddly enough. I probably would have guessed shoujo. A god of calamity accidentally half-kills a girl and tries to make it up to her. And fails a lot. Fucking beautiful artwork.

So what'd I miss, Homies? Where have you gone in the anime world, and what should I see next?

  1. My gateway was once Sakura Card Captors. I'm not well versed in anime (we've had anime series in local tv for several decades, so there's a lot of people with a vast knowledge of it that I'll never be able to match!) I guess I can only point you to the "mainstream" anime! Which would be Ranma 1/2, Saint Seiya, Mazinger series… Not really sure if you'd be interested in "old school" animation though.
    Personally, I've been wanting to see Evangelion for ages. I should get around to it soon!

    • It can be intimidating to realize I'll never catch up to some people's knowledge. But then I remember how much I love this stuff, and I have SO MUCH of it to learn about. And that's awesome.

    • This was also my gateway anime. It was on right after I got home from middle school, and always interesting. From there I went to Ranma 1/2, then Evangelion, then Chobits, and down the rabbit hole I went 😀 I started attending a local anime convention, and even cosplayed.

    • I loved Ranma 1/2 and Evangelion. Those were my favorites when I was in high school. Right now, I really love Princess Jellyfish (there's only 1 season and it's available on youtube with subtitles from Funimation) and Nana, which is full of relationship and friendship angst in the most painfully familiar ways possible. Sadly, the manga is unfinished due to the author's sudden illness and has been on hiatus for a few years.

      • I'm so pleased someone mentioned not only Nana but Princess Jellyfish. My goodness how I love them both.

  2. Eeee! Anime!

    I only got into anime about 3 years ago, but I was lured in by Fullmetal Alchemist. I cannot speak highly enough of the story, nor of the quality in artistry and (both) Japanese and English voice acting. I prefer Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood more, as it follows the manga in its entirety.

    If you're a macabre kind of person who likes spooky, yet super silly things, I highly rec Soul Eater. It's a beautiful story with lovely references to mythology and people who can turn into weapons. It's got a spiritual/mystical side to it as they spend a lot of time talking about souls and connections (but not in a romantic way).

    If you need something with no supernatural to it and a super-sweet love story that will make your teeth rot, Ouran High School Host Club is your place to be. The entire cast is ADORABLE, and it's got your sap and your angst.

    Recommended, but not as highly: Mushi-shi, Baccano!, Durarara! (seconding OP here, worth it), Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, D-Gray Man (kinda, but Netflix didn't have everything last time I checked).

    Still watching: Dragon Ball-Z. This is my boyfriend's childhood right here (we're watching via the Funimation website) and it's SO LONG. I'm enjoying it so far, and it's a nice action anime.

    I think most everything I've listed is on Netflix streaming, so easy access!

    • Ouran HSHC was totally on my list of faves before I edited it down! I read somewhere that the characters are all poking fun at stereotypes of shoujo. Once I watched it with that in mind, the show became fucking hilarious.

  3. Attack on Titan was my gateway drug, I don't want to wait for more! I just got into anime recently. I also love Fullmetal Alchemist (and FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood) and Black Butler (set in Victorian London. I listened to it dubbed because the accents made sense in that set).

  4. The caption on the first picture is a pretty major spoiler. I usually don't care about stuff like that but that but I would hate to have someone's first time watching Attack on Titan lack any awesome suspense

  5. The classics are always good. Ninja Scroll, Akira, Evangelion, Appleseed, bubblegum crisis, are all older more action oriented classics. For the silly and perverted, but not hentai there is Golden Boy my all time favorite. I also LOVE and am slightly obsessed with Full Metal Panic and Fooly Cooly (FLCL). Then there is Cowboy Beboop, Trigun and so, so many more. I watch all sorts of anime, and read even more manga. I could go on forever. I also suggest this site Rent Anime.com http://www.rentanime.com/default.php
    They are essentially a Netflix/gamefly type membership that lets you rent anime DVD's. Their site is extensive and has almost everything you could ever want to watch. And they have it all divided into genres and alphabetized. I adore it, and they have a two week free trial. My only issue with the rent anime site is sometimes the turn around time can be a little slower than I would like. Sword Art Online is a newer series along with Fairytale which are both gaining a large following. Soul Eater is popular too. It all depends on what you are into. I have been watching anime so long I treat them just like my regular US live action shows and movies, there are horror stores, comedies, drama,s you name it they have it. There are some great variations in art styles too, each artist, producer and director bring something different to the table, and each art style really helps pull you into that world. You'll eventually be able to identify artist, and voice actors since many of them work on the same things. Anyway… I could rant on, but I won't. If you have any other questions or anything, please let me know I would be more than glad to help!

    • I have only seen one episode of Cowboy Bebop (although I want to see more), but it was the most beautiful episode of anything I have ever seen.
      But… what the f*** is with FLCL? I had no idea what was going on the entire time, and still don't even though I've finished it. I feel like I either missed something very important, somehow, or I'm just not cut out for really out-there animes. Ah well.

      • HAHAHA!!! That's EXACTLY how I felt the first time I watched it. I suggest watching it again, but get it from someone who owns it, or all of the DVD's at once ( there are three) Binge watch it, it's the only way it will make any sense; and even then, it really isn't meant to make much sense. Don't try to breath too much into it, with out there anime's like that you naturally want to, so you try to rationalize things or find more meaning then there is, or needs to be. But all I can say is watch it all at once. I have the collectors box set; so if you are ever in GA let me know. 😉

        Cowboy Bebop is amazing, and one I am dying to see made into a live action. And I once dated a guy who looked EXACTLY like spike…. it was hot.

        • I actually did watch all of them at once; my husband has the collection. Still… no idea. Haha!
          And now I really need to watch Cowboy Bebop….

    • Golden Boy is so fun! I'm always surprised that more people into anime either don't like it or haven't watched it.

    • If nothing else, Cowboy Bebop is worth watching because it has the single greatest soundtrack of all time.

  6. Tactics was one of my first non-Sailor-Moon animes, and I love it. Very simple to get into, pretty light, and it delves into some really cool mythology.

    I can't recommend Chrono Crusade highly enough. It's not a very long series, but by the end you'll have your heart ripped out and you will be sobbing at how beautiful the story was and how close you got to the characters. It's about an evil-fighting nun.

    • Oh oh oh! And Gankutsuou is basically an anime re-telling of the Count of Monte Cristo, with an amazing soundtrack.

  7. A really light-hearted, adorable anime is Azumanga Daioh, about a group of high-school girls who become unlikely friends.

    • 100% this! It's also one of the few animes that doesn't have romance (in my experience) in the plot, or rather, always being about boys and girls. I think there is only really one named male character, and the series doesn't have the sort of fanservice one would expect from an anime about highschool girls. It's fairly easy to find on Youtube.

  8. I didn't get to see nearly as much as I would like, but Read or Die really caught my interest. If you're into books and libraries, it's a good one.

  9. Homies who use video streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix might be surprised at the choices available there, without having to turn to another site. A lot of the more popular series (and even some more niche series) are readily accessible on those types of services, so if you're just getting started, it might be a good idea just to flip to their anime category and browse the descriptions to decide on a series to start with. Almost every genre that is represented in Western media will have an anime equivalent, whether it's sci-fi, romance, fantasy, action, comedy, slice-of-life, etc.

    One other suggestion if you do plan to get more "serious" about watching anime is to use a site like http://myanimelist.net/ to keep track of shows you've previously watched. In addition to keeping things organize, you can also assign a rating out of 10 points, and there are a number of sites designed to compare your ratings and recommend similar shows based on what other people have watched and liked, so it's a nice way to start your search based on what you've previously watched and liked.

  10. as a side note: i had/have a problem watching anime with the husband, some animes that he did enjoy (but wont admit it, because its a "cartoon", was Cowboy Bebop, and Trigun.

  11. I would suggest Ah/Oh my Goddess, Princess Tutu (which sounds sickly sweet but does twist the Magical Girl Anime plot and is suitable for all the family), Nodame Cantabile (with subtitles as I find the American Voices a little wierd), anything by Studio Gibli though be warned about Graveyard of Fireflies as it is the saddest thing I have ever seen. The films Perfect Blue, Millennium Princess and Paprika are also really good and so is Tokyo Godfathers. Scrapped Princess is good also though I thought the ending was a little flat though I did watch it during my big Anime binge. Azumanga Daioh is really funny and a a little wierd. Twelve Kingdoms. and Saiunkoku Monogatan. There are so many Anime that I have watched though I haven't kept up to date most of these come from before 2010, mostly female lead and on the lighter side of things. Hope this helps! 😀

  12. I really agree that it's surprising what is available on traditional streaming media services like Hulu and Netflix. I've also had good luck with YouTube, and is where I have been watching the Princess Tutu series (geared toward young children, but has fascinating storytelling).
    If you've got young kiddos, there's lots of anime meant for children under 10. Most of them are written really smartly, but are simple enough for children, without gore or romance elements.

  13. Oof this is a dense topic.

    First, as suggested by the OP, Anime isn't really a genre of it's own in a sense. Anime is really just Animation from Japan. From there are the genres, but it's defined by the medium (animation) to how it's classified.

    I tend to go, personally, more towards the weird and/or surreal. Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favorites and needs to be watched multiple times to be adequately understood beyond the surface. There's so many layers going on and every viewing gives you more/different/deeper insights into the characters and plot. Beyond that, I also highly enjoy Serial Experiments: Lain.

    With Lain, you can't expect things to make sense for a few episodes in the center, but then it all clicks into place. It's, in its symbolism, about self-sacrifice, love and death. I'd give the plot synopsis, but you'd think I was insane. Definitely worth a watch! And it's relative short, being mini-series length.

    I want to second Fullmetal Alchemist, too. It's got an easily followed basic plot, but a lot of depth of character in it, too. Brotherhood I had a hard time getting into because it starts in an emotionally charged time in the arch from the first series. Either are guaranteed tear-jerkers at times, but I'm a sucker for plots that involve family.

    Bleach is decent for a start into shounen. It's long-running and based off of an even longer-running manga (comic) series of the same name. Beware of the filler archs with it, though, as they can get a bit drawn out.

    Ouran High School Host Club is good for some comedy and light romance. I'd call it worth a watch, even if just once. I enjoyed it heartily straight through to the end.

    If you've got a little one who you want to take with you on the journey, Card Captor Sakura, subtitled, is mind-bendingly cute and may, in fact, have given me a cavity or forty. It's really nice.

    Miyazaki films in the original Japanese are great to start out, as well. A little fantasy, a good bet for kids most of the time, beautifully animated with some great thematic and character elements. Howl's Moving Castle is a favorite of mine; as is My Neighbor Totoro.

    Since the content is as diverse as any other media, I would recommend taking what you like from Western media (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, comedies, kid shows, etc.) and finding anime within those same lines.

    • I forgot to mention one I liked, but wasn't jumping up and down about —

      Shojou Kakumei Utena (often found as Revolutionary Girl Utena here in the States) is nice for some shojou (shocker I know) anime with some interesting romance and light gender-binary transgressions (without getting spoilery, Utena is a high school girl who believes herself to be a Prince).

      Which also leads me to Rose of Versailles, which is a major inspiration for Utena. I've never seen it, personally, but one of my really good friends, who adores Utena to the moon and back, watched it and enjoyed it mightily.

      • oh god, yes! rose of versailles was called "lady oscar" here in germany and i loved that show as a kid. oscar is a woman but captain of the royal guard or something of the like.

        also lovely, in a dark-dystopian way: wolfs rain. we found that on youtube a couple of years ago…

    • Sorry sorry.

      Swinging back in to HIGHLY recommend AIR. You know what will happen from the beginning, but you fall in love with the characters so quickly (gauuuuu)! Once you watch it, any time anyone makes an Anime Music Video (AMV) with it as the source material, you'll burst into these weepy, ugly cries. (just thinking about it now is making me a little weepy. That's how good it is!)

      It's about a time-bending protection story between the two main characters (not in the Dr Who sense, but in another way).

  14. I LOOOVE Sailor Moon! Just started getting into Full Metal Alchemist. Have watched Inuyasha, Death Note, and some really good yuri, too, like Strawberry Panic. There's so many others I can't remember right now and so many I have yet to watch. Welcome to the club! 😉

  15. OMG do I have a list of anime for you

    First, Action anime: Gurren Laggan (which will tear your heart to shreds in the best fucking way), Baccano!, Space Dandy, Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, Samurai 7 (which is AMAZING), Berserk, Black Lagoon, Claymore, Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO for short), Trigun, Outlaw Star (if you can find it), Soul Eater. High School of the Dead is all about boobies and zombies and is amazing fun.

    Sword Art Online is action packed AND has amazing romance. It's so good, I've read about so many couples that want to use quotes from it in their wedding vows.
    The Tenchi OVA and Tenchi Universe should not be underestimated for how good they are, despite their age.

    Comedies: Dragon Half (only 2 episodes), Ouran High School Host Club, Abenoboshi Shopping Arcade, Desert Punk, FLCL (which is only 6 episodes, but you'll need to watch it multiple times), Baka & Test, Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Ninja Nonsense, Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star, Hetalia, Hare & Guu, School Rumble, Midori Days, Full Metal Panic Fumofu, Those Who Hunt Elves, Cromartie High school (featuring Freddie Mercury!), Animation Runner Kuromi, K-On! and Magic Users Club. Bottle Fairy is so sugary, that you will probably have diabetes afterward, but if you are into that then it's worth it. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is very darkly funny.

    Romance: His and Her Circumstances, The sweet blue flowers and Ah! My Goddess are all good.

    Thoughtful anime: Hell Girl (good dose of horror and existentialism in this one), Mushi-shi and Kino's Journey are both Episodic and you may feel more comfortable with them at first. Haibane Renmei is heart wrenching. XxxHolic is wonderfully slow paced. Last Exile is action filled and presses issues like why we fight and even have wars and why they can be prevent yet are inevitable. Madoka Magica is a magic girl anime, but gets dark fast. Wandering Son is about a boy and girl that struggle with both sexuality and gender identity while in middle school. The issues are talked about respectfully and thoughtfully.

    Now and Then, Here and There is sooooo good, but not many people have watched it. Warning: There is an almost rape scene that will leave you hating humanity. The girl is ok physically, but mentally the scarring is there, and it is well written, not just for drama.

    Kuragehime (or Jellyfish Princess) is one I have a hard time classifying but is wonderful and thoughtful. If you are a lady which has struggled with relating to other people but is passionate about something, then this is then anime for you.

    When They Cry, Elfen Lied and Umineko are very bloody and great if you're into that.

    Anime Movies: Summer Wars! I cannot stress how good this movie is! If you never ever watch anything else anime again, then just watch this!
    There's also Paprika, Tekkonkinkreet, Dead Leaves, King of Thorn, Tokyo Godfathers (which I love to watch at Christmas time) and all of the Ghibli films. Be careful with Grave of the Fireflies, though. I guarantee, you're gonna feel depressed for a day or two after watching it, so counter it with something that reaffirms your faith in humanity.

    • Seconding Baccano. It's by the same folks who did Durarara, and I think it's even better. One of my all-time favorite animes.

      Mushi-shi goes on that list, too, though I think that one has more of a niche audience – it's just not going to appeal to everyone.

      • Oh! The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, if you can find it! It's a *lovely* movie, sweet and thoughtful and funny and a little sad.

  16. Girls und Panzer is by far my favorite anime. I think that I could watch episode 12 on a continuous loop and never get bored.


    My suggestion: don't feel obligated to accede to someone else's taste. If an anime is very popular, perhaps try one full episode. If it doesn't grab you, try something else.

    I have also found it helpful to use Amazon's recommendations system. Once I found an anime that I liked, I searched for it in Amazon and tried out series that other customers had purchased.

  17. My FH got me into anime big time when we started dating. Here is what we went through (partial list, enough to get started and figure out what you like):

    Sci-Fi/Fantasy: To Aru Majitsu no Index (translation: A Certain Magical Index), Humanity has declined, Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Stein's;Gate, Captain Earth (Current season), Knights of Sidonia (Current Season), Angel Beats, Blast of the Tempest

    Action/Adventure: Full Metal Alchmeist Brotherhood, Black Rock Shooter (my all-time fave), Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online (skip the second season, it doesn't really add much to the over-arching story line and is meh), Accel World

    Horror/Mystery: Higurashi, Madoka Magica, Elfen Leid, Another, Shiki, Hell Girl, Mirai Nikki

    Everything Else: No Game No Life, Fate/Zero, Fate Stay Night, Ga Rei Zero, Monster (you better have A LOT of time if you want to dig into this one), Noragami, Beyond the Boundary, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (Farewell, Mr. Despair), Katanagatari, Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari

    Comedy: Chuunibyou, My Oridnary Life, Oran High School Host Club, Durarara!, Baccano, Space Dandy, My Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu, Engaged to the Unidentified

    Slice of Life: Lucky Star, Minami-ke, Ordinary Life of High School Boys, One Week Friends (Current Season), Asumanga Daioh, Hanasaku Iroha

  18. Oh, thanks for this! I've been in a really 90s/cyberpunk mood lately (resurrecting my LiveJournal will do that), and so I got curious about anime. The other night, I realized Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is on Hulu, so I watched that and now I'm looking for more stuff along those lines. But I know that both Netflix and Hulu have a fairly limited selection.

    So this was really timely! Thank you!

    • I definitely found Netflix' selection to be extremely limited. It's a good way to start, but, for example, it wouldn't be worth it to have Netflix solely for the anime.

  19. Oh man, where do I begin? As most 90s kids Sailor Moon and Pokemon were my gateway anime. My old favorites are Slayers (warning: the animation in the first 2 seasons is a bit hit or miss, and the third season's story is not very good, but you should still watch it to better follow seasons 4 and 5) and Trigun. Newer shows I've been into are Madoka Magica and Eden of the East. I'm pretty behind on new stuff. Hmmmm old classics I would also recommend are Kenshin, Excel Saga, and Tenchi Muyo. To create a comprehensive list would be difficult. There is anime on Netflix and Hulu btw, though Crunchyroll is the most comprehensive collection.

    To get on my soap box for a moment, I implore you please to not watch via YouTube (unless it's an official channel) or other pirated sites. Piracy has done a lot of damage to the anime industry. Granted back in the 90s fansubs did some to help prove there was a market in the US for anime, now they make it harder to convince Japanese companies to give US licenses for official release. A lot of anime fans have an entitled attitude that they deserve this stuff for free/without ads. Please don't be that guy; find legal ways of watching.

  20. I don't watch a lot of anime (especially compared to my partner), and most of what I've seen is the more popular/prevalent in North America stuff.
    The first animation from Japan I ever watched was Akira, and it is a classic for a reason.
    That led to a few seasons of Sailor Moon & Sailer Moon Super S, and a few seasons of Dragonball Z. Oh, and Ninja Scroll.
    In more recent years: Naruto, Avatar, and a big BIG vote for Cowboy Bebop.

  21. Ahh – memories. Voltron, G-Force (aka Battle of The Planets/Gatchaman), Ronin Warriors – then Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Tenchi Muyo, Pokemon (yes, it's anime, folks), Dragonball, Dragonball Z… I loved the things that Cartoon Network introduced me to. Then I discovered manga (graphic novels), and I was bought, sold, and paid for. I've been in and out of anime for the past 16 years, missed a lot, have attempted to catch up on some – and I totally agree that Attack on Titan is a very George R. R. Martin-esque take on a story. Really good, though!

    The amount of anime genres make it so that pretty much everyone has a niche – which is great.

    • AAAAHH so glad you agreed with the GoT analogy. As the story kept going, I had no idea what to expect from any of the characters, even ones I had fallen completely in love with.

  22. Tokko is my favorite anime show and its not that long either so you can kind of binge on it – and the main character is a girl with pink hair who kicks booty! Also, I really like Gunslinger Girls, but haven't gotten that far into it yet..

    Im such a noob!

    For real, I thought every "child/teen of the 90s" had seen Ninja Scroll, Akira and X – I thought these were required watching during that decade…. 🙂

  23. ALWAYS watch the subtitled version. My gateway was Fruits Basket and Sailor Moon. Hardcore. Now I highly recommend Bakemonogatari. Honest to blog the art style is amazing and the story is fast moving with lots of 'hidden messages' that add to the plot. Attack on Titan is balls to the walls amazing. I also recommend Golden Time, Death Note (!!!), Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, Seitokai Yakuindomo which is very slapstick high school one that leans toward the whole teenagers weenie angst bit. Another, which is a creepy ass almost everyone dies kind of thing. Oh god, SO MANY.

    • One more reason (as if you needed one!) to always watch the subtitled with original Japanese dubbing – you will learn Japanese! Most of my American friends who have gone on to learn Japanese as a 2nd language started off mocking the Japanese phrases in anime.
      At the very least, you'll learn a few insults, how to count, and probably a few names of animals.

      • regarding Subs v. Dubs, I totally agree.. EXCEPT in one situation. Ghost Stories. The anime in Japan was crap. and they knew it. So when an American production company (ADV?) wanted to bring it over, the Japanese company said 'Ok, but we're not giving you the script'. So… they just made up their own HILARIOUS take on these supposedly scary stories. Gotta love the Ayres Brothers.

        One anime I loved to death was Nerima Daikon Brothers (Nabeshin!). really raunchy, totally hilarious.

        Another one that I really enjoyed was Ergo Proxy. post-apocolyptic type, and not actually that.. uh. Japanese in customs or culture differences? As in, you don't need to know that Baka-boy not taking off his shoes was rude.

  24. A helpful tip for Anime newbies.

    Give a new anime 6 episodes before you decide if you like it.

    I love anime and I even co-chaired anime club in college and I find that the 6 episode rule is super functional. Anime is weird and series tend not to start with strong pilots in the way that American TV dramas do. Give the show a time to establish character and story. By episode 6 you'll either be totally hooked or totally over it.

  25. I'm not a big anime person, but the ones I have seen I LOVE (mostly my husband's doing). I'm kind of picky as there as some things that put me off in anime (often not the most feminist content in the world), but there are a lot of shows out there that are just SO GOOD and shouldn't deter people away just because it's called "anime".

    I'm surprised Cowboy Bebop isn't on the list. It absolutely a classic, and is easily appealing to those that don't watch anime. A good entry anime.

    Samurai Champloo is an AWESOME show, and has an interesting mix of East and West, great humor, and some Japanese history thrown in.

    I second Dararara!

    Baccano! is also great, a story about a bunch of different characters on a train, and how their histories intertwine.

    Mushishi (it's no coincidence that all the animes that originally appealed to me also had fun to say names) is a much calmer and slower paced show than you typically see, with fantastic stories and great characters.

    There's also anime movies that are just plain great movies, specifically those by Hayayo Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke). Summer Wars is also great.

    One of my husband's favorites is FLCL, but it was too weird for me. Redline is also a favorite of his, which I could appreciate but didn't fall in love with. MUCH too intense for me.

    • You're so right about anime housing some serious non feminist work. I think that's another reason why finding pieces I enjoy can be kind of difficult. You have to learn what you like, then it helps to find fans you respect so you can have a source for trusted recommendations, and then be willing to just walk away from a story that gives you not good feels.

  26. Cowboy Bebop (very good, averyone agrees)
    Princess Jellyfish (josei = intended for grown woman. It is cute and funny without being cheesy)
    Azu Manga Daioh (so so funny! also read Yotsuba if you liked that)
    Gankutsuou (adaptation of le comte de Monte Cristo in space with mechas; unexpectedly rather good)
    Elfen Lied (blood, boobs and tragedy. very moving.)
    Photon, the idiot adventures (very funny, only 6 episodes)
    Full Metal Alchemist (a good old shonen with some episodes that will break your heart)
    Lucky Star (nerd talks between schoolgirls. Loved it)
    Each of Hayao Miyazaki's films (just watch them)
    Grave of the fireflies (maybe watch Totoro afterwards to ease the pain?)
    Full Metal Panic Fumoffu (all the fun parts from Full Metal Panic without the mechas and with a big bear plushie)
    Ergo proxy (goes full nonsense towards the middle, but still beautiful)
    The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Funny. You won't understand quite yet, just keep going)
    Seirei no moribito (nice, beautiful, well done, a lot of nice details)
    Speed grapher (not a fantastic one, but I like love (love-ish) stories with age differences)
    Genshiken (nerdy talk between shoolboys)
    School Rumble (fun and nonsense-y)

    • Okay, I'm pretty sure I'm never going to watch Grave of the Fireflies now because YOU ALL say I'm going to hate life afterward.

      • It's really really sad but it's really really good. I shouldn't have watched it with my 6 year-old sister though.

    • A note about Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. You will have to make a choice between broadcast order, and chronological order. The wiki page helps to order them how ever you want. (broadcast order, Chonological order, both season chrono order)

      I recommend Broadcast order, a bit strange, but it suits the anime. 🙂

  27. My 10yr old daughter has been watching Fairytale. I'm concerned about the sexuality factor (and surrounding web ads) of this show. I know nothing about Anime. Is there a kid-friendly show and web location that anyone can recommend?

    • It might be easier to find anime movies that are more kid-friendly than some shows. My Neighbor Totoro is probably a safe bet. Of course there's Kiki's Delivery Service and a lot of other Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films. Up on Poppy Hill is a relatively new one that features a sweet love story, if your 10-year-old is ready for that but not anything less innocent.

      You might like to check out this link for reddit's family-friendly suggestions on Netflix: http://www.reddit.com/r/Animesuggest/comments/20u0m9/can_you_suggest_some_good_dubbed_anime_thats/

      • My three year old son and I watch some of the Ghibli films. The first movie he ever sat and watched all the way through was Ponyo, which I think is the best for young children. Totoro and Kiki (the dubbed version of Kiki has Phil Hartman voicing the cat, and has my son in fits of giggles every time) are also great. We have just got Arietty and he has enjoyed that too. I got Howl's Moving Castle for him, which I really liked, but he was too young for the war violence, and I regret showing him that one.

  28. I have to say that sailor moon was definitely my first but I got re-introduced when i was about 7 or 8 when my Da went to teach in Korea and brought back VHS tapes of anime. One I particularly loved was Rurouni Kenshin, completely obsessed with it and Vampire Hunter D.
    Now once anime got a tiny more mainstream, I fell in love with Gundam Wing, Cowboy Bebop, Tenchi Muyo, Outlaw Star, and Yu Yu Hakusho. Does anyone remember Toonami on cartoon network? My guilty pleasure of trying to stay up to watch them all. Trigun was pretty cool too. Well, as you can see I really got into it and I still am.."Another", "Black Butler" , Ouran Host High School, etc.

    My first manga was Planet Ladder and Tenchi…even branching out to Bizenghast later. Anime is such a wonderful art and with my Da living in Japan and giving up his US citizenship, I srsly get some awesome dvds sent from him so I'm always growing my collection! ^_^
    Anyone can get into anime and even turn into hardcore otaku! lol ^_^ Anime forever!

  29. Bless this post. I am totally bookmarking it and combing through all the suggestions at a later date.

    So here are my feels:
    — Anyway. Sailor Moon was my gateway drug as well, although I heavily recommend watching it in Japanese (hopefully it will finally be rereleased now that the reboot is coming out?). It's long, though, so I will mention that my favorite seasons are S and Stars (3 and 5, respectively).
    — If you're into things *like* Sailor Moon but are, um, less of an optimist about the world, I just finished Puella Magi Madoka Magica (now on Netflix!) and I really liked it. It can be dark, though, so it's not for everyone. It's only 13 eps long though.
    — Cowboy Bebop, I mean, come on.
    — If you enjoy over-the-top characters and giant robots, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is the greatest of all shows.

      • I'm definitely going to keep watching it! Right now I'm six episodes in, but my boyfriend and I have made a semi-official pact to only watch it together, and our schedules haven't been cooperating very well. It's his first anime and he's enjoying it thus far, so that's exciting. 🙂

  30. I liked Claymore, Cowboy Bebop, and Full Metal Alchemist, and I would like to see more of them. I swear my list of shows to watch must be nearing the triple digits though, so who knows when I'll get around to it.


    – Full Metal Alchemist (My #1. WATCH IT!!!)
    – Gokusen (high school teacher/mafia princess teaching delinquents)
    – Natsume Yuujinchou (beautiful artwork, wonderful stories)
    – Skip Beat (girl enters show biz to get back at guy, has fun adventures)
    – His & Her Circumstances (great, great shojou – doesn't end properly so you have to read the manga for closure)

    Just a few…I could go on and on and on…

  32. I am going to beat the drum a little louder for Cowboy Bebop. If you can find it any where, that show was mind-bogglingly amazeballs. It was funny, it was action packed, it was a tear jerker, and was absolutely a grown up anime. I LOVE Cowboy Bebop.
    And Akira, because that movie was awesome. TETSUOOOOOOO!

    • Augh, guys, I get it, I'll watch Cowboy Bebop, gosh!
      I'm going to confess something because I know you'll all be gentle and NICE and NOT JUDGE ME … I totally tried to watch it once. But I didn't give it the six episodes that I apparently should have before giving up, and it was with an ex, and blah.
      I'm plowing through Hunter x Hunter right now, but I swear, I'll try to ride the Cowboy again right after that.

      • Confession: Ein is the entire reason I fell in love with Corgis. I love them now for their own myriad reasons, but Ein sparked the fire. 😀 Watch the show if for no other reason than the interaction between Ein and Ed. 😀

  33. I have a suggestion. Don't watch the dubbed versions. Watch the subbed. I downloaded all 200 episodes of Sailor Moon, dubbed in English. They're the uncut versions, not the ones that showed in the US where they made Sailor Neptune and Uranus cousins and they basically censored anything "inappropriate" like when Sailor Moon climbed into a car with a stranger. Also, at the beginning of each episode there's a bit of a cultural background…like when they explain that "telling someone they have a round face is considered a compliment in Japan". So yeah…always subbed!
    I also liked Elfen Lied, Chobits, Death Note, Cardcaptor Sakura…there's an endless list of amazing anime. Have fun watching.

    • *raises right hand* I solemnly swear, guys, I don't watch dubs anymore. That was strictly for the first season of Sailor Moon until I realized I could watch subs (and also realized seiyuu voices are soooo much less annoying than English dub).

      • I am mildly amused that there seems to be only a handful of voice actors for the English dubs of anime.

    • The only time I disagree with this "subs not dubs" rule is when Steve Blum is a voice actor. (See: Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, etc.) That man's voice is AMAZING.

      Oh, and, um, Ghost in the Shell. Because Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Major Kusanagi makes me want to change teams. (rawr.) (she also voices Hot Ice Hilda in Outlaw Star, AND Julia in Cowboy Bebop. See a trend?) Richard Epcar as Batou is equally as amazing.

      I also prefer the English VAs to the Japanese VAs for Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki (the OVA's), because I LOVE the take K.T. Voigt has on Washuu, I like Petrea Burchard as Ryoko, Sherry Lynn does a fantastic job with Sasami…

      So, uh yeah. Most always: Subs over dubs! But there are exceptions, at least in my mind 🙂

  34. Sailor Moon Crystal is coming.

    I am SO EXCITED!

    When I want to get people into anime, I usually start them with a movie, normally something studio Ghibli that's been dubbed well and is just plain good regardless of medium like Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro and then branch out into the series.

  35. I hadn't really watched anime since college, but have gotten back into it recently by streaming off of Netflix. Netflix is a good place to start, particularly for those new to the genre, because the chance of accidently watching tentacle porn is pretty low. (Seriously, I'm still scarred from watching Urotsukidoji at the recommendation of a friend).

    I've gotten some good stuff off of Netflix so far. I highly recommend Ghost Hunt, about a band of young paranormal investigators. It's truly creepy at times. I had a lot of fun with Princess Jellyfish, a light hearted show about a group of young Otaku women who get mixed up with a stylish cross dressing man. Squid Girl is another fun romp featuring a very bad attempt to take over the world (think Invader Zim). I'm currently watching Welcome to the NHK, a dark comedy touching on social anxiety, obsession, conspiracy theories, pop culture, and generally dealing with life. I'm only a few episodes into it, and it's picking up.

    I will second the idea to give any new anime a few episodes to get going.

    • I can't believe someone actually recommended Urotsukidoji to you! It's pretty tentacle laden in all of the worst (best?) ways depending on your preferences.

      • I know, right? To be honest, it was more an acquaintance (friend of my roommate), but he had recommended some good stuff prior to this. I did not know what I was getting myself into. For starters, I'm not really into porn to begin with. I get into some erotica and enjoy some of the fun, raunchier series, but I was not prepared for the full on tentacle rapefest this thing was. I never did finish it. It's a shame, because I remember liking the storyline.

  36. Sword Art Online – now on Netflix. Really enjoying the concept. People start playing a totally immersing game similar to WOW, only you put on helmets and are transported to a virtual world. Then once they get there the game designer makes it so you can't log out of the game or you die. The only way to make the game stop is to beat it. It's fantastic.

    I also love Nana, Princess Jellyfish, Naruto, Eden of the East, Chobits, and so much more. I just can't remember.

    • Okay, I have to confess, I did not like Chobits at all. So much of it creeped me right the fuck out. BUT a lot of people whose taste I respect love it. Can anyone tell me why it's awesome?

  37. I've heard good things about Eden of the East. It's in my queue but I haven't started it yet.

  38. I had a lot of fun watching Hetalia. It's a silly show based on history, basically anthropomorphizing various countries into young anime men. So far I've only watched Hetalia:Axis Powers, which takes you from WWI into WWII. The show moves fast. I recommend watching it in English, with the subtitles on. I still find myself having to pause the screen to read everything.

    On a more somber note, I really liked The House. It's a Korean animated movie about a young woman living and trying to get by in a slum in Seoul. She gets to know the spirits of houses, who will die if the house they are connected to is destroyed. This is not a light hearted romp. The movie touches on class differences, gender bias, death, change, community, and gentrification. I won't lie; I cried at the end.

  39. I haven't watched lots of Anime, but ones that I've seen and really enjoyed include Fruits Basket, which has already been mentioned quite a bit, and My-HiME (Mai-HiME), which I don't think I've seen mentioned in the comments yet. Not sure how much to say about it to avoid spoilers, but if you like stories that contain supernatural elements along with good stories about friendship and romance, I think you'll like this anime. It can be hilarious, scary, and sad, sometimes all in the same episode.

  40. DEATH NOTE. I adored this series from beginning to end and I even have the live action films (which for a medium that isn't a natural for the Japanese, are REALLY well done!)
    ERGO PROXY. Beautifully drawn and executed, but I did kind of lose the plot along the way…not sure if that was me, or the story arc aha!
    I also started watching TEXHNOLYZE, but then couldn't find anywhere to keep watching it with subs.

  41. I'm 30, but this post made me feel old, ha. In high school, I was in Anime Club, and took Japanese as my foreign language (I was lucky they offered it!!) precisely because I did the same thing as you: Sailor Moon was my gateway drug in middle school, and I explored video stores for more and more, and eventually became a subbed-only snob (because really, GOOD dubs are few and far between.. at least they were back then, I'll things have improved dramatically in the last 15-20 years). So, my recommendations are probably going to be considered anime classics, and not currently trendy, but they are some of the most profound, groundbreaking animations I still love to this day.

    Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki – I can't name one film by this man & studio that I don't love. Not one. The animation is always on point, and the stories are inevitably always amazing. Which is why when they were ported to the US by Disney, they made such a huge splash (relative to the rest of the anime world). They were intense, well told stories that were relatable to people of all ages – they are family friendly to a large extent (some have a little violence, but nothing too graphic) while still being very enjoyable to adults.

    Akira – oh yeah, it had to happen. It's a bizarre, gore- and violence-filled flick, but it is one of epic proportions. It's not my favorite, by far, but it's still an important piece, IMO.

    Ghost in the Shell – one of my favorites, although the film is not true to the feel of the original manga (the TV series released in the early 2000's – Stand Alone Complex – is much truer to Masamune Shirow's vision and sense of humor, although the plot takes a different and parallel route to the original). Awesome story about cyborgs and how our physical self relates to our consciousness/humanity. If we are more machine than we are man, are we still alive? Is a consciousness that develops from an AI considered alive? Just the tip of the iceberg there, but I love it.

    Neon Genesis Evangelion/Shin Seiki Evangelion – Likely my all-time favorite still to this day. The animation was sketchy at times (you can tell the difference in quality between episodes), but the story is what makes it. They're currently in the process of creating a reboot to the series that hugely improves upon that one fault of the original anime, and adds a lot more depth to the already very deep and complex storyline. Be prepared to be mind fucked, though. There is a little shounen going on, but a lot of psychological thriller shit in the background that sneaks up on you. Little tidbits given here and there that keep you hanging on for more, more, MOAR!! Or maybe that's just me, I don't know. 😀

    Excel Saga – not deep by any stretch of the imagination. Just pure, random, slapstick comedy that will leave you rolling.

    FuriKuri – by the same animation studio as Evangelion (GAINAX), it's a very short series (6 episdoes, if I remember correctly), but with a great little plot, some really hilarious scenes (the intro scene for Haruko on her supercharged Vespa still gives me the giggles), and a truly EPIC soundtrack (done primarily by a band called The Pillows.. who I actually got to see live at SXSW in Austin several years ago.. talk about checking an item off the anime nerd bucket list). Hybrid Rainbow is still one of my favorite songs to this day, precisely because of this series.

    Anyway, I'm sure I could go on and on… I haven't kept up much in the last 10 years with the new anime that's out there, to be honest. Life has, unfortunately, gotten in the way (I have forgotten about 90% of the Japanese I learned), and I'm not around a lot of people anymore who can appreciate what now amounts to a guilty pleasure. So I sneak in a few episodes of stuff here and there on days off, but I just can't keep up with the onslaught anymore, lol.

  42. I know a lot of these have already been mentioned, but they definitely bear repeating.

    Studio Ghibli/ Hayao Miyazaki was my gateway drug. His imaginative films broke through the stigma I had associated with anime (through passing views) and actually inspired me to begin learning more about the Japanese culture and start studying the language (which I have enjoyed for 2 years now, thanks Miyazaki!).

    Persona 4 The Animation: Based on one of my fave video games. Love Shin Megami Tensei.

    Mushi-shi: Slower paced, but wonderful for learning more about Japanese worldview through folktales.

    Sword Art Online: Why are you still reading this? Go watch it! A GREAT first anime.

    Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood: So. Good. Has wonderful relationships and well rounded characters. The manga is also DEFINITELY worth the read.

    Devil Survivor 2: Also based off of a Shin Megami Tensei video game. VERY intense.

    Attack on Titan: Not for the faint of heart, and the main character is not my fave. But addictive.

    Black Butler: A dark comedy. I throughly enjoyed it, but my fella did not.

    Also, sign up for anime-planet.com . There you can rate the shows you have watched, note if you dropped it, make a 'want to watch list', etc. Then it will give you recommendations based on what you like! So convenient, especially for a relatively new anime user(me) to keep track of everything.

  43. Zomfg yay! HUGE anime nerd, love the hell out of this post. Inviting people to come play in the magical sandbox of Japanese animation is a favorite pastime! ^.^;;

    Absolute must-see stuff:
    – Rurouni Kenshin (first two seasons, plus the two OVAs. Be warned, the OVAs are much darker than the light-hearted series).
    – GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka. If you can find the live action version to supplement the series, do. It's fucking FANTASTIC).
    – Fullmetal Alchemist/FMA Brotherhood. Just a tremendous, wonderful, beautifully animated show. It will make you cry big fat tears of sadness though.
    – Literally anything that Hayao Miyazaki has ever touched, including Lupin III.
    – Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro.
    – The classics: Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion, Ninja Scroll (these are all fucked up to some degree, but I find Ninja Scroll to probably be the most violent and difficult to watch. It's been a long time – but I think there might be a rape scene, so could be triggery).
    – FLCL/FuriKuri (also pretty fucked up, but in very different ways)

    Fun to watch:
    – Magic Knight Rayearth
    – X/1999 (very dark, but still shonen, it's weird)
    – Escaflowne (probably my all-time favorite for re-watching, has a stupid ending though)
    – Hellsing (pretty dark)
    – Gundam Wing (there are a shitload of Gundam series out there, but I like GW the best – it was my first fandom, so it has a special place in my heart)
    – Berserk (so, so good… but so, so violent. There is rape in the last – or second to last – episode. Also, absolutely zero satisfaction in terms of closure – have to read the manga.)
    – Fushigi Yuugi (such a sweet, sad story)
    – Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo

    – Blood: The Last Vampire
    – Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (crazy violent)
    – Vampire Hunter D
    – Millenium Actress
    – Paprika
    – Tekkon Kinkreet (AMAZING, but helps to know a bit about Japanese culture to understand)
    – Memories (three shorts, including Magnetic Rose, which is probably the most famous of the three)
    – Metropolis
    – Tales from Earthsea (based on the book by Ursula K. LeGuin. Delightful.)

    Good luck everyone! It's a deep, deep rabbit hole you are diving into!

  44. Ooooh! I think Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura and Pokemon were my first glimpse into animated Asian culture… but definitely one of my first boyfriends threw me into it. I could never get into Evangelion, but here are some that I love!

    Tv Shows:
    Cowboy Bebop: feels like the tv show Firefly, for the futuristic but then somehow western themes? Best random jazz soundtrack also. About a misfit crew of bounty hunters flying around the galaxy, and their odd pasts. And a super intelligent corgi.

    Serial Experiment Lain: weird almost Matrix like narrative. My love for onesie pajamas came from here. High school students discover that dead students still exist in the ethereal internet like space, and communicate with them.

    The Airbender Series: these are different depending which Airbender they are following, but they are all about a world where people can "bend" or affect the four elements, and use them for good evil in between etc. Usually about the current young Avatar who is the only one who can use all four elements and has some power in the world.

    The Animatrix: I think about 9 short diverse animated films relating to the Matrix universe. All awesome in their own right.

    Classic movies: Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Akira. Anything that comes out of Studio Ghibli. Except My Neighbors the Yamadas, which I do not understand at all! My favourites being My Neighbor Totoro and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. They are usually supernatural magic fantasy futuristic stories, but some like Whisper of the Heart are just amazing without any magic. Seriously, these movies are just PERFECT for watching inside in a blanket fort with some nibbles and hushed voices.

  45. I was brought to the 'dark side' by FLCL, Cowboy Bebop and Studio Ghibli 😀

    Some that I love that haven't been mentioned yet —

    Last Exile — Steampunk-ish, story of two youngsters in a big race and then in a war. Gorgeous art, great characters but dark in places
    Wolfs Rain — Post apocalyptic, dark

    Wolf Children — relatively recent, a great story of a woman raising her wolf children in modern Japan
    Steamboy — obv. steampunk type stuff, but a great film

  46. My gateway show was Speed Racer, but I am a child of the 70's. I have a huge collection of anime, manga and toys along with a love of all things Sanrio.

  47. I'm not sure how I missed this thread, but I'm here now! I'd seen pokemon and dragon ball z without realizing what anime was. So while I had been watching, really my gateway anime was Fullmetal Alchemist! After watching it had to have MORE. Seriously so good. My husband and I have gone through so many since then. We started with netflix and hulu and after we'd gone through those we got crunchyroll. But netflix and hulu are great services to start out in if you already have them. Crunchyroll will show glimpses of shows in the adds and I've picked up a few interesting ones through that as well. If you have a local anime shop, they can give you good recommendations!

    I also MUST agree with the sub over dub statements. Not only will the voices fit more, the story will as well. Hulu's sub on Naruto got messed up for a while so I had to switch to dub for a few episodes and it was so off putting. I rewatched a few episodes older episodes to figure out what it was and the translation changes the story! Where as the sub was very serious and engaging, the dub was horribly cheesy in the way they changed what was being said. You'd think it would be the same, but it's not. There are exceptions to the rules, but they vary by personal taste. Try watching sub first & if it's not working, try dub.

    Now onto how to get deep into it: We started going to anime conventions and it will open up a whole new world!! That's also how i decide what to watch next these days. If I find that there is a lot of buzz about a show at a con, I'll give it a shot. If I love the fan art or characters I see, it will go on a list of to watch shows. It's super fun! It's a good idea to go with someone who's been to one before so they can explain wtf is going on at times, but everyone is super nice and you don't have to worry about people being uptight about things. Usually anime conventions (at least where I'm from) have evolved more into a celebration of anything animated (you'll see Disney princesses I guarantee it) and are very welcoming and not at all snobby about "that's not technically anime" type issues. It's really a great way to learn.

    Okay now to the shows I always recommend to beginners: Naruto is my all time favorite. Souleater, black butler, bleach is okay but the filler arcs can drag on, The last airbender series, Hellsing, Deathnote, Sword art online, Blue exorcist, Fairytail, and that's all I can think off the top of my head.

    I always give shows a chance by watching more than just the first episode. They have a very weird story line sometimes, so you have to watch a handful of episodes to get a feel for what a show will be like. Also if you are unsure about one (and are afraid of content, like tentacle rape) don't be afraid to do some research and read a little bit about what a show is about before watching. You might spoil yourself, but I've always preferred to spoil myself and get to watch a good show than take a risk and scar myself for life. If it's a really complex show (like Naruto) the spoiler you read will probably not turn out like you expect and you hadn't really spoiled yourself after all.

    I've also found that most anime isn't really for small children, so I'd be careful what you allow your children to watch.

    The most important tip is not to get discouraged or overwhelmed! There will absolutely be shows you will not like despite everyone raving about them (I really hate attack on titan, even though I was so excited to watch it because I was sure I'd love it) but don't let it make you think anime isn't for you. Just keep trying other shows and eventually you'll find out what you like! It takes some experimenting for sure.

  48. I believe my gateway was Blood+ but it's been so long. I had a sick obsession with all things vampire and that was the most interesting take on them I'd seen. Bleach was a close second(SO MANY SEASONS THOUGH. and filler). They were both on adult swim anime nights at one point in my life.

    My absolute favorite anime of all time is Sword Art Online. Absolutely. No doubts. Husband and I use it to rate all other animes, it is 5 star. If the anime we watch isn't as good as SAO, then it's a 4 star.

    Read or die is my second top. The boy showed it to me a few years ago and it is one of the most interesting and intense shows I have ever seen and I love every second of it. Fruits basket is also near the top. The story is beautiful and I really need to get around to reading it. And Fullmetal Alchemist & Brotherhood. So amazing. So many shows. Some good, some silly.

    Ooh, speaking of silly and baka. Baka and Test. Best silly one we've seen. Definitely recommend that one if you just want something fun and quick to watch. I could go on, but I'm avoiding school work so…

  49. Nice article! HOWEVER, to fully appreciate anime though… One must journey farther, MUCH FARTHER, than the titles noted here. Anime and manga's legacies obviously go far and away back to the late 60s and of course onward. The earlier influences, of such as Tezuka, Takahashi, early works of Miyazaki, Takahata, Ishiguro, Matsumoto, Anno, and others. The sheer litany and wealth of amazing titles still awaits, with over even 250 titles in TV shows, OVAs, and movies even pre-dating 1996. Legendary classics from such studios as Tatsunoko, featuring Casshern, Gatchaman, Tekkaman Blade. Other scifi classics like Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Caption Harlock, and Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, and the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Romantic comedies, further on like Ranma 1/2, Kimagure Orange Road, Maison Ikkoku, Marmalade Boy. Ones with fantasy like Fushigi Yuugi. and Vision of Escaflowne. Action/crime/adventure comedies like Cat's Eye, City Hunter, Lupin the 3rd, and You're Under Arrest!
    Not to mention other classics such Katsuhiro Otomo's Memories, Robot Carnival, Silent Mobius, Bubblegum Crisis, Riding Bean, Record of Lodoss War, and Vampire Princess Miyu , and others. To truly experience anime, take a trip down memory lane with these gems!

  50. Been watching anime and reading manga for YEARS.

    "Hellsing" is a great older one of you like vampires.

    "The Pet Girl of Sakurasou" is a cool coming of age series about high school students at an art school. Pretty artwork.

    "Super Sonico" is a super kawaii anime based on a video game character. It's about a sweet high school girl who plays in a band, models, and has 6 cats.

    "Space Dandy" is a fun one that is done by the guy who did "Cowboy Bebop" (which is an awesome one too). The only way to describe Space Dandy would be to think Bruce Cambell in space. 😉


  51. Loving this! As a massive anime fan, I am excited to see this here!
    My best tips for getting into anime are:

    1) Make yourself a http://www.myanimelist.net account. Not only can you keep track of what you've seen, how far you've gotten, what you want to see, etc. you can also get recommendations based on what you've watched and loved. I love it!

    2) Aside from Cruchyroll, Hulu has a surprising amount of anime. Mostly subbed, but a fair amount of the best anime I have ever seen are not dubbed, so unless you have problems with reading subs, I highly suggest watching them! I very much encourage people to watch anime legally online, as it helps the industry. ^_^ You can also read manga and watch Korean Dramas on CR, so that is a plus, too!

    3) Be familiar with types of anime. This article just touched on the broader genres! Just like live action TV and movies, not all anime in a genre are created equally or similarly. "Slice of life" anime can be shoujo, shounen, or something all it's own. Some anime may be both horror and comedy. Shounen can have crazy amounts of cute, romantic moments. "Ecchi" means the show is PG-13 at least, and contains adult content, but not full-on porn like Hentai. Sports, School, Slice of Life, Magical Girl, and Mecha anime are some of the "sub genres" that have a pretty vast amount of titles, and there are plenty more!

    4) http://www.anichart.net IS YOUR BEST FRIEND FOR FINDING NEW ANIME BEFORE THEY BECOME INSANELY POPULAR. Just like any kind of TV, new anime are scheduled to come out each season in Japan, and sites like Crunchyroll and Hulu, etc will allow you to watch each episode after it airs every week. Anichart will tell you months in advance what anime are coming out, what they are about, and how long (right to the minute) until the next episode airs. I generally pick a few promising-looking ones each season to follow, and it's awesome. (My favorites so far this season are Ore Monogatari!!, Shokugeki no Soma, Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, and The Heroic Legend of Arslan.)

    5) Anime conventions. This may sound daunting or just super weird, but finding a small con to go to just for an afternoon can be an extremely fun way to learn more about anime. I recommend going with someone who knows the anime/con world well and can act as your guide. I went to my first con as an extreme newbie but still had a blast because I was with someone who knew what was going on. I suggest campus cons, which a lot of universities host. Once you've decided you love cons, going each year to a larger one(s) is amazing! You can even find some crazy talented cosplayers to follow and drool over! 😉

    And lastly, my list of favorite anime!
    Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Shounen. (Oh my. This anime… it's perfection, to me.)
    Clannad, but more Clannad:After Story. Shoujo (Be prepared for Kleenex… I cry over AS.)
    Working!! or Wagnaria!! Comedy/Slice of Life. (This show is a scream.)
    B Gata H Kei: Yamada's First Time. Comedy/Ecchi/Romance. (It's on Netflix. It sounds weird when you read the synopsis, but I promise you it is one of the funniest, most confusingly cute anime I have ever seen. My husband loves it and recommends it to all the couples we know!)
    Berserk. Action/Supernatural/Horror. (The anime, NOT the movie. I have watched this about 7 times through. It's intense.)
    Romeo X Juliet. Shoujo/Romance/Fantasy. (This one is beautiful. Art and story are gorgeous)
    Toradora! School/Romance/Comedy. (Hilarious and stinking adorable.)
    Attack on Titan, as mentioned in the article.
    Parasyte: The Maxim, Action/Horror/Sci-fi. (Crazy intense and I am loving it to bits.)
    Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul: A. Holy freaking heck. I love this show. It is amazing and somehow manages to make me crazy happy whilst breaking my heart into tiny pieces. Season Three (Tokyo Ghoul:re) is coming soon, and I'm so insanely happy!

    I could go on and on, but I will just leave a link to my personal MyAnimeList. ^_^ I am in the process of updating it, but it has my list of completed ones and how I have rated them.

    Happy watching! And totally friend me on MyAnimeList if you want (it's anonymous/uses screen names). I'm always up for talking anime!

  52. Oh wow everyone has so many great suggestions. I kinda fell out of watching anime for a while (my husband isn't really into it) and now I am getting back into it. Most of my suggestions are a bit older.

    My favorites:
    Chevalier D'Eon – A really wonderful anime semi based on the Chevalier D'Eon who was a spy in service of the Louis XV. There is a lot of intrigue, politics mixed with a supernatural element, and cross-dressing. I could only watch 1-2 episodes at a time because there was so much to process.

    Rosario + Vampire – A human accidentally enrolls in a school for monsters. Fun and a bit campy with a fair bit of fan service. This is also a manga.

    Case Closed (Originally called Detective Conan) – Mystery series about a teenage detective who is poisoned during a case and ends up in the body of a child. He spends his time searching for the criminals who poisoned him and solving other cases. One of my absolute favorite animes! This is also manga.

    Love Stage! – is a cute shonen ai or boy love anime. Izumi is the youngest son in a family of celebrities. His family is insistent on pushing him into the spotlight even though he'd rather just create his own manga. When he meets Ryoma, a famous actor/heartthrob, Izumi starts questioning his dreams and desires.

    Revolutionary Girl Utena- about the girl who wanted to be a prince. Utena spends her time at school dueling other students and protecting Anthy. Watch the series BEFORE the movie or the movie will make no sense.

    Beautiful but depressing:
    Haibane Renmei – The plot is pretty conceptual and the art is beautiful. I'm not sure how else to describe it without spoiling anything.

    Worth checking out:
    Twelve Kingdoms – based on Chinese mythology. The setting is richly developed and almost a character of its own. The major story arc follows Youko in her journey from our world to that of the Twelve Kingdoms. This is another one to watch in small chunks to process everything.

    And I am seconding these ones that others have already mentioned.
    Death Note
    Fullmetal Alchemist (I have mixed feelings about Conqueror of Shamballa the FMA movie. Check out the movie after watching the series if you are interested.)
    Black Butler
    Vampire Hunter D
    Lupin III series and movies but especially Castle of Cagliostro
    And of course anything by Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away are my favorites)

  53. I've been into anime and manga since I picked up my older sister's Neon Genesis Evangelion back when I was 8 years old. I'm nearly 29 now. I will say I'm more of a manga fan than I am anime…as most anime (not all) tends to be based off of the manga and the anime tends to ruin it…Skip Beat is a prime example…(compresses the storyline, gets rid of important personality traits in characters, etc). So here's some that I've enjoyed to watch:

    – Inu-Yasha (historical shonen with romance)
    – Naruto (ninja action comedy)
    – Samurai Champloo (historical comedy with some action and bits of drama)
    – Cowboy Bebop (space cowboy bounty hunter comedy with drama…SO GOOD)
    – Michiko & Hatchin (comedy action about two girls travelling across South America trying to find a 'lost' man)
    – Soul Eater (comedy action about soul collectors)
    – Vandread (comedy romance mecha about male-only and female-only societies)
    – NOIR (action drama about female assassins)
    – Witch Hunter Robin (action drama about a witch hunter organization)
    – Neon Gensis Evangelion (classic mecha drama)
    – Fullmetal Alchemist (action comedy about alchemist brothers searching for a way to restore their bodies)
    – Full Metal Panic!/Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu/Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (comedy mecha action about a teenage anti-terrorist member who has to protect a high school girl. Fumoffu is a full-on comedy in between the two series)
    – Death Note (action drama about a teenager who finds a death notebook so he can dole out his own "justice")
    – Ouran High School Host Club (comedy about a girl gets sucked into joining a men's host club when she's mistaken for a boy)
    – Sailor Moon (if I have to explain this to you then stop right now)
    – Mushi-shi (beautiful episodic anime about a Mushi master)
    – Kino's Journey (another beautiful episodic anime about a traveler and her talking motorbike)
    – Azumanga Daioh! (comedy about high school girls. So ridiculous!)
    – Baccano! (action comedy multi-POV/multi-timeline story set in prohibition-era USA where the storylines all eventually converge)
    – Last Exile (steampunk/fantasy action drama about a delivery team during war)
    – Monster (mystery drama involving a doctor seeking out a serial killer)
    – Trigun (action comedy about insurance girls seeking out the world's most wanted man)
    – Studio Ghibli (anything. You can't go wrong)
    – Vision of Escaflowne (romance drama about a girl who gets transported to another world)

    That's only a small sampling of what I've seen. My husband would also probably recommend Wolf's Rain, Rahxephone (too much like Evangelion for me), Berserk, Macross Plus, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, Great Teacher Onizuka, Initial D, .hack.//Sign, Serial Experiements Lain (although I didn't enjoy it), Hellsing, Elfen Lied, and Scryed.

    My all-time fave animes are: Mushi-shi, NOIR, Azumanga Daioh!, Full Metal Panic! series, Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop, Kino's Journey, My Neighbour Totoro/Ponyo/Nausacaa: Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away (all Studio Ghibli).

    Echoing what people say about Grave of the Fireflies…I haven't seen it, but I know what it's about/happens and I get teary just THINKING about it.

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