We’ve all been there.
Every one of us.
We’ve all tried to get someone into anime, whether it be a friend, a family member, or even just an acquaintance.
And it isn’t an easy feat. It’s difficult to pin-point that one good entry-level anime that is guaranteed to grab a hold of that person into the wonderful medium that we all love. I can’t speak for everyone, but I do feel that, with how anime is commonly viewed as, it can sometimes be sad and daunting to try to explain to someone that anime is a legitimately amazing form of entertainment that spans multiple themes and genres.
Well, don’t worry, I’ve taken it upon myself to device my own special little list of 10 anime that are both great and easy to watch for beginners. These 10 shows are, in my opinion, the best anime to illustrate to someone who hasn’t seen the medium before just what anime is capable of, and hopefully have them hooked.
Trust me, you don’t want people to have THIS reaction to an anime you recommend, so make sure first impressions count!
Take note that these anime aren’t 100% guaranteed to drag your friends into anime hell, as I would still leave it up to your jurisdiction on whether or not any of these shows that I’ll be mentioning are worth recommending. But, this list is for everyone to consider, and I did my best to account for varying tastes as well as levels of enjoyment. This is just a general overview of things that I would personally use to recommend people to watch if they want to get into anime, and hopefully you would agree with at least some of them.
Now, without further fanfare…
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopia, Romance, Action, Drama
Directed by: Tetsuro Araki
Studio: Production I.G
Music by: Hiroyuki Sawano
Ok, this one is a bit of a wildcard, but hear me out.
Upon further reflection, I realized that, from a production standpoint, Guilty Crown hits everything in the right notes. Tetsuro Araki, director of this show (as well as the next one on this list), definitely knows how to keep his viewers entertained with great animation, heavenly OSTs, and an enthralling premise. Even though the plot deteriorates at around the second-half and the characters are completely unrelatable, I’m sure that beginners will be blind to those faults and will whole-heartedly enjoy this show.
I mean, a lot of you who do watch a lot of anime are still blinded by Guilty Crown’s beauty, so might as well. If anything, it’ll definitely show someone who’s new to the medium what anime is capable of at a technical level.
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller, Action, Drama
Now, this one is pretty meta, but it does work.
Chances are, with the popularity of AoT, your acquaintances may be familiar with this show already. At some point down the line, I’ll have an article detailing on why Attack on Titan works in the west so much, but for now, I’ll just say that it has the action, story-telling style, and soundtrack that is very reflective of popular western media. Definitely try this one, as its acclaim should be enough of a motivation to warrant a try.
And then, after that hook is set, it’s only a matter of time before they take the bait.
And by then, they’ll be captured.
Genre: Occult Detective, Psychological Thriller
Psychological-thriller fans, rejoice!
This one has my seal of “Tried-and-Tested”, and it really does work. It’s a very clever show with a lot of suspenseful twists and turns that can keep anyone at the edge of their seat and wanting more. I’m sure that anyone can find something here that they’ll like, and they’ll thank you for that, I’m sure.
Or they’ll blame you for ruining their life with anime, whichever comes first.
Oh hey, this also the THIRD anime that shares a director with other shows on this list.
Try to guess who.
Genre: Action, Crime Drama, Black Comedy
Directed by: Sunao Katabuchi
Excuse my language, but if your friend likes action, explosions, guns, and tons of swearing, then Black Lagoon is right on the money. A story featuring the members of the Lagoon company as they carry out dangerous and oftentimes illegal missions, it contains a fun little cast of characters and has enough action to make any Michael Bay movie look like an episode of Teletubbies in comparison.
Action-packed, funny, and fucking awesome, Black Lagoon is surely something to show any fan of action shows. Watch in dub for the full effect.
Genre: Fantasy, Black Comedy, Crime
Directed by: Takahiro Omori
Studio: Brain’s Base
Music by: Makoto Yoshimori
If you’re trying to get a person who’s a fan of western shows into anime, then there’s no easier transition than Baccano.
Following the Quentin Tarantino-style of story telling, Baccano is a non-linear train ride (hehe) that only goes up and up and up and left and right and every which direction but down. It’s a brilliant show that has high critical acclaim, and for a good reason.
Great story, great characters, great soundtrack, great animation for its time; what the hell is there not to like?
Genre: Science Fantasy, Adventure, Action, Drama
Director: Yasuhiro Irie
Music by: Akira Senju
Really this doesn’t need to be explained.
It has the action and comedy of a shonen, but what separates it is the intricacy and the depth of its story. The substance that this show contains makes it an anime that anyone can enjoy WHILE taking something after finishing it.
It is definitely an experience that every anime fan should have, and introducing someone to anime with an anime of such acclaim is just all sorts of right.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Thriller, Action, Drama
Directed by: Mamoru Oshii (1995 film), Kenji Kamiyama (Stand Alone Complex)
Music by: Kenji Kawai (1995 film), Yoko Kanno (Stand Alone Complex)
Alrighty, it’s time to pander to the sci-fi fans out there.
Being an inspiration for the Matrix movies themselves, Ghost in the Shell is a great look at an alternate future, where technology rules and science is the primary source of power. It has enough action to keep a newcomer interested while still maintaining a top-notch story that is both enriching and immersive.
Oh, and that animation is so fluid and detailed, they’ll never know that this was made in 2004.
I myself got into anime through shonens, so I can attest to this one quite highly. With their oftentimes simplistic, easy-to-follow plot as well as an abundance of action and comedy, shonens are the quickest and most user-friendly way to introduce someone to the medium, as although they don’t necessarily excel at one aspect, they do have this jack-of-all-trades sort of thing going on with them that makes it easy for anyone to find something they like about a particular show.
Genre: Supernatural, Comedy, Action, Drama
Directed by: Seiji Kishi
Written by: Jun Maeda (script and original story)
Studio: P.A. Works
Music by: Jun Maeda
This one may seem a bit random, but I do feel that Angel Beats belongs here for the same reason that Guilty Crown does. Despite the the entire thing being oddly paced, it has a good amount of comedy and action, as well as some genuinely thoughtful moments, to keep new viewers interested. Add those to a unique setting, interesting premise, a well-done soundtrack, and a nice little romance sub-plot (HINT: It’s not the one between the main characters), and you’ve got something that is both easy to watch and emotionally investing.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Action, Drama, Space Western
Directed by: Shinichiro Watanabe
Music by: Yokko Kanno
Of course, how can we forget?
This is probably more geared towards a slightly older demographic (around about people in their twenties and above) since the animation seems dated (even though it really isn’t as it looks AMAZING for its time), but nevertheless, Cowboy Bebop, much like FMA, is a critically-acclaimed show that has been highly influential in the growth of anime in the west upon its release in America. With great action, fluid animation, some of the most entertaining cast of characters this side of the galaxy, and a soundtrack that’s just out of this world, Bebop certainly is an anime that takes the derogatory preconceptions of anime, tosses it into the air, and then shoots it from the sky, while exclaiming “Bang”.
Its acclaim might have people disagreeing as to whether or not this show is a fine gateway anime, but to me, that’s all the more reason to show this work of art, as a shining example of what anime is and what it is capable. And then some.
There we go, the first version of my 10 recommended anime for beginners.
Of course, I can’t say that ALL of these will work. As I said, use your better judgement and see what your friend/acquaintance/family member/pet would love the most. I know you guys are smart enough to do that on your own, but this is just my own list of recommendations to at least help you get started. All we can hope for is that they take the things we recommend to heart and hopefully they will come to love this medium of entertainment that we all treasure.
This will be an on-going type of article, as there are many many more anime out there that you can introduce to people. I’ll update this list in the future, probably make this a 3x-a-year thing, so that you guys don’t run short of all the good gateway anime that you can use to bring people into our wonderful, wonderful fandom.
As per usual, leave a comment down below pertaining to your thoughts on this review, on the movie itself, or if you would like me to review anything. And, speaking of liking, give the review a thumbs-up if you enjoyed it and follow me on twitter @tbs_ken for updates and general shitposting if you feel like doing so.
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