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.
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.
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.
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?
Comments on Where do I start? An anime guide for newbies
Fantastic tip! Six? I’ll give it a try!
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.
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.
Yes! Elfen Lied! So good.
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. 🙂
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.
Chi’s sweet home, Azu manga daioh, the Ghibli films.
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!
Bless this post. I am totally bookmarking it and combing through all the suggestions at a later date.
So here are my feels:
— Currently watching: Attack on Titan. WHAT IS THAT FIRST PICTURE ABOUT YOU GUYS I DON’T UNDERSTAND
— 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.
OH MY GOSH YOU HAVE TO KEEP WATCHING IT’S SO AWESOME. And Sailor Stars was absolutely the best season of Sailor Moon, I agree.
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. 🙂
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…
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. 😀
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 🙂
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.
I swear I cried when I read about the upcoming Sailor Moon series.
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.
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?
I’ve heard good things about Eden of the East. It’s in my queue but I haven’t started it yet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
– 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)
– 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!
Huge props for how awesomely welcoming you are. I love it when fans are “you too will love how fantastic this thing is!”
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
Blood + is AMAZING. <3 One of my first anime as well!
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