Because Anime is one of the largest mediums in the world, there are plenty of great ones out there. However, this makes it hard for newbies to know where to start, and some won’t make as much sense unless you watch other series. Today on Anime Gem, I will be selecting a few titles for you to start out with!
My personal requirements for a “Beginner” Anime are as followed: Short in length (Under 100 episodes or average 2 hour movie length), does not rely heavily on anime knowledge, and appealing to a wide audience. This way, you can get a taste of what the medium has to offer without the temptation of giving up due to confusion.
Anime Gem tries to avoid recommending the same anime on multiple lists, so check out our blog section to look at those as well!
- Cowboy Bebop (1998)
Cowboy Bebop is one of the most famous and well loved anime of all time. The story takes place in 2071, in which earth becomes mostly inhabitable and humanity colonizes most of the rocky planets of the solar system. Due to the rising crime rate, the police allow citizens to register as a Bounty Hunter (also referred to as “cowboys”) to turn in criminals for a reward. The story follows Spike, an ex hitman searching to reunite with his once girlfriend Julia, who along the way teams up with other bounty hunters. The jazz music inspiration, its combination of several genres, and the overall worldbuilding makes this anime a much watch for anybody. With its short 26 episode run, you will end up wanting more, but also realizing that there would be no better way to end the series.
2. Death Note (2006)
Death Note is a psychological thriller that will always keep you on your feet. The story follows Light Yagami, a boy who finds a notebook dropped by a god of death named Ryuk. This notebook can kill somebody if you write their name in it. Light uses this power to make a crime free utopia, and adapts the alias Kira (Literal translation “Killer”). The random deaths begin to seem suspious, and the police force hires who is regarded as the best detective in the world, L. The story takes a turn as actress and model Misa Amane also finds a Death Note and is dubbed The Second Kira, leading a team up between her and Light. With so many twists and turns, it is a great introduction to the anime medium.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
An unique take on the fantasy genre, it’s easy to see why Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is so appealing. The story centers around brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, who lived with their single mother as their alchemist father abandoned them them when they were very young. When their mother dies of lingering illness, Edward and Alphonse attempt to use alchemy in attempts to bring her back. This leads Edward to lose his leg, and in order to save his brother, Edward sacrifices his arm to bring his brother’s soul back in a nearby suit of armor. The brothers continue to study alchemy, and spend the next 3 years searching for the Philospoher’s Stone in order to bring back their original bodies.
4. Ouran High School Host Club (2006)
A ridiculous plot, a great sense of humor, and with the ablity to address serious subjects, it’s hard not to love Ouran High School Host Club. The anime follows Haruhi Fujioka, a girl who looks like a boy who attends the prestigious Ouran academy through a scholarship. While looking for a place to study, she accidentally walks into a room of the Host Club, a club of boys who entertain the girls of the school with tea and flirtation. Haruhi then accidentally bumps into a vase worth 8,000,000 yen, causing her to have to work as a host to pay off her debts. One of the reasons Ouran is such a great anime to start with is because it introduces Japanese terms and anime tropes in an easy to understand manner, preparing you for more complex series.
5. ANY Studio Ghibli (1985-Present)
I know it may seem like a cop out to put a whole studio of films as a recommendation, but it’s honestly too hard to pick just one. Studio Ghibli is known for their gorgeous scenery, strong female characters, themes of enviromentalism and anti-government, and a magical way of storytelling. Most fans will tell you to stay away from Tales of Earthsea and the recent CGI film Earwig and the Witch (and I personally recommend staying away from Ocean Waves, although it is aesthetically pleasing, it’s quite boring), but even those films have so much more care in them than a lot of Hollywood films. Every other Ghibli film can be regarded as a masterpiece, with Spirited Away being the only anime and foreign film to win best animated feature. Studio founder Hayao Miyazaki also has 3 nominations and the studio having 6 total, it’s safe to say that these films capture more than just anime fan’s hearts.
6. Little Witch Academia (2017)
With the sweetness of Ghibli and the nostalgia of Harry Potter brings Little Witch Academia, an adorable tale of girls at a witch school. The story follows a young witch named Akko who joins Luna Nova Academy to be like her favorite witch Shiny Chariot, despite her lack of a magical background. When she discovers the Shiny Rod, a magical relic left behind by Chariot, her adventure begins. This charming anime can be enjoyed by anyone, and is available to stream on Netflix.
7. Perfect Blue (1997)
I mostly decided to focus on series rather than movies, but when I say that this anime is one of the most influential films in the horror and thriller genre, I mean that full heartedly. When Mima Kirigoe decides to leave her pop idol group to become a serious actress, a website titled “Mima’s Room” is created that is written like her innocent idol persona. She is then stalked by an obsessive fan, with multiple murders occurring around her, and slowly starts to lose touch of reality. The film is rumored to be the inspiration for Darren Aronofsky’s films Requiem for a Dream and the Academy Award winning Black Swan, with the influence being noticeably there. Despite this film being over 20 years old, it offers a commentary on the horrors of the internet that still holds up today.
8. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. (2016)
It’s a common belief that comedy anime doesn’t work outside of Japan as the culture has a different sense of humor, but I think anyone can have a good laugh with Saiki. The story follows Saiki Kusuo, a boy born with psychic powers who would rather blend in than stand out. This doesn’t turn out as well as he hoped, as his whole world is filled with bizarre individuals. It’s self awareness and its ability to not take itself too seriously will keep you hooked on the series
9. Soul Eater (2008)
An action tale with a gothic twist, it’s kind of hard to find something to complain about with Soul Eater. The story follows a group of teens who are training to become grim reapers (or their weapons) at a school run by lord death himself. With a Tim Burton influence and a fun class of characters, this show will put you into a spooky spirit.
10. Aggrestuko (2018)
With office comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation continuing to grow in popularity, Aggrestuko has never been a more perfect show to watch! Follow Restuko, a 25 year old red panda as you follow her not-so-ideal adventures at her office job, and rocking out to death metal karaoke on her off hours to let out her pent out rage. Made by the same company that brought us Hello Kitty, be prepared to to have fun with an anime that shows the less romantic aspects of adulthood.
Did you like our list? Didn’t see your favorite show? Comment below what you think!