So I don’t know about you but I get super excited when I have a friend who has never seen anime before ask me, “How do I get into anime? What shows would you recommend me?”
*Internal screams* (Don’t scream out loud. Otherwise, they may run away before they’ve been converted.)
For new watchers, I make sure to recommend some anime that are generally popular but also have stories that are either relatable or stories that we would love to jump in on the action for ourselves!
So if you or someone you know is new to anime, here’s a list of some shows that are perfect for them to start out with and why!
And Trust Me… I know you’ll enjoy them!
My Hero Academia
Our shaggy green haired protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, has always wanted to be a superhero and couldn’t wait for him to finally mature into his quirk. I mean when 80% of the world’s population is born with a superhuman power (aka “quirk”), you think you have a good shot of getting one too. Right? Well, unfortunately, for Midoriya he was part of population that will be quirkless and he suffered from bullying and discrimination from it. However, he does not plan to give up on his dream of becoming a Pro-Hero and enrolling into the elite hero training academy, UA High.
Then everything changed…when the fiery heart of the Legendary Hero and Izuku’s idol, All Might, came into his life. (Thought I was going to insert an Avatar quote didn’t you?) Midoriya underwent special training, became stronger than ever before, and, eventually, inherits All-Might’s god-like powers. With his new abilities, Midoriya tests for the school of his choice and starts his uplifting, heartbreaking, and enduring journey to become the successor of the number one Pro-Hero.
This is for new anime watchers who like a good story about an underdog. It’s about overcoming the obstacles. It gives you hope, it give you heartbreak, it gives you love, meanwhile hitting you with heart-racing action.
What if you were given possession of a notebook where if you were to write the name of any individual in it they would die in under a minute. What would you do? Would you become this self proclaimed god that murders criminals for justice in desire to build a new world where crime doesn’t exist? If not then you should still check out this anime and witness someone else do just that.
Light Yagimi, a typical high school student, one day finds a notebook lying on the ground that has this specific power. It came from another world where Shinigami, gods of Death, roamed. With this god-like capability, Light works to rid the world of all criminals to build a society where evil does not exist and people can worship him as God. However, police are realizing that there is a serial killer who is targeting criminals and begins to work hard to apprehend the culprit. To do this, investigators call forth the best detective in the world, L.
This is for new anime watchers who like crime TV shows with mind-blowing twists and turns, a theme that questions killing the guilty for the sake of justice, and an ending you may see coming but still hurts to watch.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
In this world, alchemy is the most advanced scientific technique and can provide the person partaking in it with some pretty amazing powers. This story follows two alchemist brothers Edward (the Fullmetal Alchemist) and Alphonse Elric who lost their bodies after a tragically failed attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy. So they set out to find this stone that is said to bypass the limitations of alchemy and can hopefully restore their bodies, The Philosopher’s Stone. On their journey, the brothers discover the horrid truth of the Philosopher’s Stone and were soon entangled in the battle with the military to prevent the homunculus from using its powers for cruelty.
This is for new anime watchers who like dark fantasy, action, adventure, political corruption, heart moving scenes, a story of a lot of loss and pain but overcoming that pain to gain strength, and a story of fighting until your last breath for what you desire no matter the obstacle. Throughout the course of this series you are also given the grim reminder that life can be very unfair, so if you like shows that can get pretty dark, this is a great pick for you.
In 2010, the Britannian Empire made themselves a dominant military nation and took over Japan. After the fall of Japan, it was renamed Area 11 which has seen significant resistance in an attempt to regain independence. Well, now that you know the backstory, the actual story follows Britannian student, Lelouch Lamperouge who was caught in the crossfire between Area 11 rebel forces and Britannia. He escapes, but only thanks to this mysterious girl, C.C., who bestows him the power of Geass, the power that makes anyone to completely obey his one command. With this newfound power he embarks on a journey as the masked Vigilante, Zero, to lead the rebel forces to victory against Britannia by a mass onslaught and destruction.
This is for new anime watchers who typically like a good sci-fi/action story with a solid blend of political corruption, family betrayal, strategic thinking, and also the theme that questions killing the guilty for the sake of justice.
One Punch Man
Yes another story about heroes, but this has a COMPLETELY different tone!
Saitama has a seemingly ordinary character with dry, unimpressive features (like seriously the guy’s face looks like it belongs in Ed, Edd, & Eddy and not in this anime) however one thing you wouldn’t expect of him is that he is a hero… an incredibly powerful superhero that no enemy can defeat in battle. In fact, all it takes is literally “one punch” for him to defeat anyone! However, this great power leads to a massive problem- he no longer gets a thrill from battling and gets bored real easily. This changes when he meets Genos, a young cyborg who wants to train under Saitama after witnessing his abilities. Genos proposes they join the Hero Association that way they can become certified heroes and be recognized for their contributions. Saitama quickly agrees, and thus starts the wild and action packed story of a man who desires to fight Grade A enemies that can hopefully give him the excitement he once felt.
This is for new anime watchers who like high-flying action in every episode with some sarcastic, dry humor that comes from how ridiculously nonchalant and ordinary the protagonist is.
The most basic forms of life in the world are Mushi. They exist just “to be” and can mimic things from the natural world such as plants, diseases, and even rainbows and waterfalls. But why do they exist? That’s the question our protagonist, Ginko, aspires to answer. He is a Mushishi, a Mushi researcher, that hopes to discover the reason why Mushi exist and what role do they play in this hierarchical society. He chases rumors and occurrences that could be tied to the Mushi, going on journeys of self-exploration and seeing life from a different perspective hoping to find an answer as to why they exist.
This is for new anime watchers who like TV dramas with a heartfelt plot and an inspirational journey that results in a meaningful story. The animation in this show is breathtaking and is definitely one of the more “beautiful” anime out there.
Nonchalant, carefree Spike Spiegel and his boisterous, pragmatic partner Jet Black make a living off of chasing bounties and collecting rewards as “Cowboys”, intergalactic bounty hunters. It has long been just the two of them but throughout the series they add a few new members aboard their ship- Ein, a genetically engineered, intelligent Corgi; Faye Valentine, a femme fatale with memory loss; and Edward Wong, a computer genius with strange mannerisms. Together they go on thrilling adventures that unravel each member’s dark past bit by bit.
This is for new anime watchers who like a good action/adventure/sci-fi blend balanced with some light-hearted comedy and a jazzy, unforgettable opening number. The animation is also very artistic and tells a powerful story of overcoming one’s past and the scars it left you. This series kinda has that cool, underground cop, nostalgia to it that make you feel like you should be arresting criminals in a 1920s speakeasy. (Maybe it’s just me.)
Any Miyazaki Film
This is for new anime watchers who like uplifting, imaginative adventures with a healthy serving of reality. Every one of Hayao Miyazaki’s films contain animation that children and adults alike can be drawn to featuring out of this world characters with very imaginative elements and hero/heroine like qualities, at the same time, giving us a heartwarming story of friendship, hope, fighting for what you believe in, and, most importantly, adventure! Now, just because these stories are generally uplifting, that doesn’t mean you won’t be given a healthy serving of reality’s unfairness and heartache. Hayao Miyazaki can keep it real, BUT once the film is over, I guarantee you that you will leave feeling warm and inspired.
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Take care and stay awesome!