Anime has slowly gained international sensation through the years. It is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world and acts as a gateway to Japanese animation and culture. You’ve probably had your anime friends trying to convince you into trying ‘One Piece’ or ‘Bleach’. But, these popular terms must have gone over your head. Anime is the term for the hand-drawn animation style that originates from Japan. They’re often misinterpreted as ‘cartoons’ but the term ‘anime’ is as broad as ‘films’. It exists in variations depending on genre and demographics. Therefore, you’ll find anime for adults, teenagers, and children as well. It is a vast inventory of good quality entertainment in a different medium. Moreover, you’ll even find content that can rival the supremacy of live-action TV shows as well. So if you’re looking to get into anime, we’ve curated a list of anime series that you should begin your journey with.
BEST ANIME TO WATCH FOR BEGINNERS
This list includes top 10 anime series that we believe is worthy content and should be watched by anyone who prefers good entertainment regardless of whether or not they want to get into anime. The list includes both mainstream anime and certain underrated offbeat recommendations to keep your options open.
Genre : Mystery, Psychological Thriller.
Death Note is an iconic anime that is usually recommended as a hook for beginners. It is an adaptation of the Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. It follows the life of Light Yagami, a genius prodigy that comes across an otherworldly notebook called the ‘Death Note’ dropped into the human world by a Shinigami (Death God) for his personal entertainment. Further on, Light discovers that he can kill people by imagining their faces and writing their names down in the book. Soon, he begins to enact a vigilante form of justice that brings him into conflict with a mysterious yet genius detective ‘L’ who is trying to catch him.
This anime series is a mark of excellent writing that is so intense and thought-provoking that it will leave you reeling by the end. The narrative is essentially a cat and mouse chase between the two male leads but their insane and ingenious strategies are what will keep you on the edge of your seat. The anime spans over 37 episodes.
Attack on Titan
Genre : Mystery, Psychological Thriller.
Attack on Titan is an anime series that broke the barriers of the anime world and became immensely popular worldwide for good reason. Hence, it makes for a great watch for even beginners to the anime world. It has even been compared to Game of Thrones due to its graphic and thrilling plot that became a worldwide sensation similar to GoT. However, we take an even bolder step by saying that Attack on Titan has a fluid narrative that will subvert your predictions for the show and it is still going strong. It is an adaptation of the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama.
The story follows the last of humanity residing within a settlement of three large concentric walls as a shelter against the Titans that preyed on them 100 years ago. Amongst them is a headstrong and determined Eren Yeager who compares life within the walls to living like cattle. He aspires to join the military unit of Survey Corps to venture outside the walls to study the Titans and eventually eradicate them. Nevertheless, chaos ensues when one day a 60 meter Titan arrives and breaks the wall. The intricate and finely layered plot evolves in a manner that is not easy to find in many shows. The writing boasts of great character development and plot twists with the thrilling action scenes that make it extremely gripping. The animation of WIT Studio is highly praised. The anime has 3 seasons (59 episodes) in total with the final season releasing this year.
Genre : Adventure, Action, Space, Thriller, Neo-Noir.
This is a 90s classic! Cowboy Bepop is a Japanese science-fiction anime series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and written by Keiko Nobumoto. What makes it stand out are the Western-style influences and the unique set of characters. The story follows a ragtag team of space bounty hunters who make a living out of capturing the most dangerous criminals in the galaxy. These are our heroes who’ll keep crime off the streets and save the world for a price! The show is highly intriguing and appealing because of their crazy space adventures and the utilitarian motives that drive them. The animation style is extremely attractive and the music is quite catchy.
The anime exudes the aura of a ‘classic’ and has style, personality with a memorable storyline. It has remained on the shelf of recommendations over a decade now. Moreover, the futuristic setting of the anime and the quirky characters are what makes it an entertaining watch. The show might seem episodic in nature but it has a significant overarching plotline. If you like action with twists complemented by the reactions of the unique characters – then you’ll definitely get hooked. Cowboy Bebop has 26 episodes.
Fullmetal Alchemist : Brotherhood
Genre : Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Action, Military.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the most significant contributions to anime. The anime series manages to pack the nuances of emotion, action, intriguing narrative, excellent premise, shocking plot twists and likeable characters with delicacy. It is an adaptation of the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The story follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, as they seek the Philosopher’s Stone to restore their bodies to reverse the effects of an alchemy ritual gone wrong. In doing so, they unravel the hidden truths of the country and its true nature as a conspiracy plot to transmute the entire country comes into light. The anime is excellent through and through as every factor that augments an anime is well done in this one.
It offers an interesting setting with plot twists and conflicts that are unforeseen. The management of tones in the show is so great that you’ll oscillate between laughing wholeheartedly to crying your eyes out. Furthermore, it tells a beautiful story of brotherhood as they persevere through the politics of the military government and the supernatural elements of alchemy that threaten their existence. The emotional evocation and the likeable characters will leave you attached to the series. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood consists of 64 episodes.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Genre : Apocalyptic, Mecha, Action, Psychological.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is hailed as one of the greatest anime series of all time. This is another classic 90s anime that is yet to be outdone by the numerous anime that come out every year. It is a Japanese mecha series directed by Hideaki Anno. The genre ‘mecha’ refers to any anime that involves a large armoured robot. The story begins with the invasion of violent monsters upon earth. It follows the life of a shy and awkward 14-year-old boy Shinji Ikari who is summoned by his authoritarian and estranged father to join a squad that pilots giant machines in an attempt to save humanity from these monsters. The anime is incredibly bizarre and is charged with so much emotion. The characters make up a huge chunk of what makes this show so great. Moreover, the unravelling of the world of Evangelion is thought-provoking.
The anime is packed with symbolism and scientific, psychological and philosophical themes. The show effectively manages to put across a perceptive argument regarding the human condition. Accompanied by the action sequences, the series is quite compelling. The anime seemed too ahead of its time with the religious symbolism, psychological and philosophical deconstruction of humanity. It easily comes into the top 10 anime series of all time (beginners would love it) and the experience of it cannot be replicated by any other anime. The anime has 26 episodes and 6 films.
Genre : Cyberpunk, Crime, Psychological Thriller.
Psycho-Pass is a highly intense and thought-provoking anime series that makes it to the creamy layer of quality anime, especially for beginners to watch. It is a Japanese cyberpunk anime series that is co-directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and Katsuyuki Motohiro and written by Gen Urobuchi. The premise is that of an authoritarian dystopian futuristic society which has public sensors to determine the Crime Coefficient of people by scanning their mental state in an attempt to prevent crime. This mass surveillance system has inflicted great injustice by allowing “appropriate” punishment to those whose Crime Coeffient deviates from normal even if they haven’t committed a crime.
These Crime Coefficient are the citizen’s fingerprint or their “Psycho-Pass” to lead a normal life. Furthermore, those who deviate are relegated to therapy or killed on the spot or given jobs as Enforcers on a police squad. In this world, police inspector Akane Tsunemori begins her new job with her enigmatic team of Enforcers where she attempts to hunt down a dangerous criminal Shogo Makishima who wishes to destroy the Sybil system. The series is an intense deconstruction of a flawed justice system and its ramifications on the mental health of its citizen. The irony of a system that seeks to protect but is the very reason behind people’s stress is evident. It is a thrilling, gory anime rife with shocking plot twists. Psycho-Pass has 3 seasons (41 episodes) in total and 1 film.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Genre: Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Military, Politics, Drama.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is an anime series that traces an exciting and intense story with a wonderful climax befitting the show and its characters. The entire narrative seems like a journey that will be etched in your memory as it closes. It is a Japanese mecha anime series directed by Goro Taniguchi and written by Ichiro Okouchi with character designs by the renowned all-female team CLAMP. The story is set in an alternate timeline where the Holy Brittanian Empire has colonised Japan and renamed it as ‘Area 11’. It follows the life of the exiled prince and genius Lelouch vi Brittania who stumbles across a mysterious woman named C.C who grants him the power of ‘Geass’. With this power, Lelouch enjoys absolute obedience from the target he activates the Geass on with eye contact. However, drunk with newfound power, Lelouch launches an armed mecha rebellion against the Holy Brittanian Empire under the identity of “Zero”.
The anime is highly fascinating for multiple reasons: one being the main lead himself. Lelouch is a complex character and a genius strategist that keeps the spirit of the Rebellion and the anime going. Moreover, he can be termed as a wonderful iteration of an ‘anti-hero’ that plays dirty against the oppressive Brittanian Empire. The anime is so well written that it offers a glimpse into the intriguing world of mystery, politics, conflict and loss. It offers excellent mecha fights, emotional scenes and even comedic relief that accentuates Lelouch’s journey even more. The anime is worth a watch for beginners for multiple reasons but the well-written character of Lelouch takes the cake. The anime has 2 seasons (50 episodes) in total and one sequel movie.
Your Lie in April
Genre: Romance, Drama, Music.
Your Lie in April is a beautiful story of love that is inspiring as well. It is regarded as one of the best romance and slice of life anime series that has released. It is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Naoshi Arakawa. The story follows Kosei Arima, a piano prodigy in his childhood, who is unable to hear the sound of the piano after his mother’s death despite his hearing is fine. This introvert quits piano and lives a life of monochrome along with his two best friends Tsubaki and Watari. However, it is when he encounters the bold and free-spirited violinist Kaori Miyazono that his life begins to see a little colour.
This anime evokes a set of emotions so strong that you’re unable to forget it. The animation is exquisitely beautiful and offers a colour palette that is very pleasant and attractive. The anime is an emotionally charged story of two people and how they inspire each other despite their traumas. The characters, animation and story are not the only good factors it has to offer. But it is also beautiful classical music that makes you realize what the leads love about music. The story beautifully establishes the significance of love, friendship and music in life. For those who’re looking for something touching and romantic, this is the anime, to begin with. You shall have no regrets. The anime has 22 episodes.
Honey and Clover
Genre: Slice of Life, Drama, Romance, Comedy.
Honey and Clover is a highly underrated anime series that isn’t that well known even in the anime world. But we believe it is one of the best slice of life anime created. Slice of Life genre in anime refers to the mundane activities and experiences of life considered equivalent to the ‘coming-of-age’ genre. It is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Chica Umino. It follows the story of 5 art school students as they navigate through love triangles, friendship, unrequited love, identity crisis, ambition and careers in life. Further on, Honey and Clover beautifully captures the bittersweet essence of life that we all relate to. Regarding their struggles, the anime does a great job in not being dramatic about it but offers a subtle depiction of it.
The show is dramatic with its comedy but under the guise of comedy, it offers a deep understanding of life. The best thing about the show is the characters from different walks of life and diverse personalities. Their struggles, thoughts, motivations are highly relatable to everyone as it is what life is made up of. One of the other highlights is their bond and happiness that they share together along their individual journeys. Moreover, it offers a very ambiguous and realistic answer to the struggles of life. It will take you through a range of emotions where you’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and rooting for these characters. This beginner show will definitely leave you with a melancholic feeling. The anime has 2 seasons (36 episodes) in total.
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Sci-Fi.
Steins;Gate is one of the best anime series and unique in its medium. The genre of ‘time travelling gone wrong’ is extremely popular but Steins;Gate manages to give us a refreshing and well-written story that will glue you to the screen. It is a Japanese sci-fi anime series co-directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki and Takuya Sato and written by Jukki Hanada. The anime follows the story of Okabe Rintaro, who dubs himself as “mad scientist”, and his group of friends as they accidentally end up creating a Phone-Microwave Time Machine that can send text and email messages back in time and change the course of history. However, their creation of the time machine brings them under the radar of a dangerous science organisation SERN and soon, there is chaos and blood.
The story might almost seem ridiculous but that is exactly what reels you in – the insane set of events that follow. One of the biggest hurdles, especially for a beginner, of this show, is its pacing. The first 10-11 episodes are a build-up to a single event that changes the trajectory of this anime. So we urge you to give it a chance as what follows after is highly worth it. The anime is an extremely thrilling and intense sci-fi story about a group of carefree friends who make a highly intelligent “mistake”. Unlike many sci-fi, it offers intelligent theories regarding time travel and timelines. If you’re in for a great sci-fi thriller with plot twists and well-written characters – then make sure to watch Steins;Gate.
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