Japanese animation, better known as anime, was once the exclusive realm of the nerdiest of nerds. Many had to be watched with subtitles, and only very few, especially marketable series such as Sailor Moon, Pokémon and the long-running Dragon Ball franchise reached Western audiences on a widespread scale. But this is now beginning to change; more series and films are now receiving quality English dubs and releases that make anime more accessible and, as a result, more mainstream audiences are willing to give it a try.
However, anime is not a genre of its own but a medium of storytelling, covering just about every genre imaginable. This, coupled with the fact that some popular long-running anime like One Piece clock in at a massive 1000+ episodes, may have some viewers feeling a tad overwhelmed. If you’re a burgeoning anime Supa-Fan looking for where to start, we’ve compiled a list of awesome series that are perfect for beginners (and veteran fans alike!).
STAR WARS: VISIONS, SEASON ONE
Star Wars: Visions is an animated anthology series, with each episode telling an original short story set within the Star Wars universe. Volume One is all anime, with the first nine episodes of the series produced by different anime studios, such as Trigger and Production I.G. With each instalment set in a galaxy far, far away, new fans may prefer to dip their toes into a familiar universe before diving deeper into the medium.
MY HERO ACADEMIA
My Hero Academia is set in a world where almost everyone is born with a special ability or ‘quirk’. Some train to be Pro Heroes, protecting the world from those who use their quirks for evil purposes. Born quirkless, Izuku Midoriya fears his own dream of Pro Hero-dom is hopeless, until a chance encounter with his idol, All Might, changes everything. Seeing Izuku’s potential, All Might transfers his rare and powerful quirk “One For All” to him, and arranges for his entry into the prestigious U.A. High School, a training ground for heroes.
The popularity of superhero/comic book films remains at an all-time high, and My Hero Academia is basically a comic book story in anime form. This would make it easy for new fans to understand, while also helping them get used to anime tropes!
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
Discovering an aptitude for the science of alchemy, brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt a challenging transmutation intended to revive their dead mother. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong, with Ed losing an arm and Al, his entire body. After binding Al’s soul to a suit of armour, the boys join the Amestris military as State Alchemists, hoping they will discover the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone, which they hope can restore Al’s lost body. Along the way, they find themselves drawn into a plot involving dangerous artificial humans known as Homunculi, going all the way to the top of the Amestris government.
While the original Fullmetal Alchemist is great in its own right, the Brotherhood remake, produced after the parent manga’s conclusion, follows the story through to the intended conclusion and is often deemed superior. To this day, it ranks as the number one anime of all time on MyAnimeList.net, so definitely worth a look to check out what all the fuss is about!
OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB
After accidentally breaking a valuable vase belonging to the Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi Fujioka enters an unconventional arrangement to replace it. Posing as a boy, Haruhi joins the club to entertain young women at parties and themed events, with her client fees paying off her debt. Over time, the club members develop close bonds with Haruhi, going to hilarious lengths to hide her gender so she is not forced to leave the club.
A much-loved entry in the Slice of Life genre, Ouran High School Host Club is perfect for fans with a taste for the quirky, and at only twenty-six episodes long, is not too frightening a time investment.
SWORD ART ONLINE
A new virtual reality game, Sword Art Online, turns deadly when the game’s creator reveals that players are barred from logging out. If their in-game health bar reaches zero, or state-of-the-art NerveGear headset is forcibly removed, they will also die in the real world. The skillful Kirito teams up with fellow player Asuna to reach level 100 and beat the game’s final boss, the only way to escape.
Sword Art Online would prove an enjoyable watch for gamers, or fans of the growing ‘Death Game’ sub-genre.
A bored Shinigami (“God of Death”) named Ryuk intentionally drops his Death Note down to Earth. The Death Note will kill anyone whose name is written in it, so long as the writer has seen the face of the condemned person. The Death Note soon falls into the hands of High School student Light Yagami. Light begins with the best of intentions, using the Note to eliminate criminals, and is dubbed ‘Kira’, loosely translated as Killer, by the media. However, his attention is soon taken by a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with L, the brilliant detective sent to investigate the Kira murders, and eventually goes somewhat mad with the power of the Death Note.
A thriller from beginning to end, Death Note is a classic for a reason, sure to hook even the most reluctant anime viewer!
If you watch and enjoy any of the above, a quick internet search will point you in the direction of similar shows. You’ll be well on your way to full-on otaku territory in no time, and who knows, one day you might even want to tackle the behemoth that is One Piece. Happy viewing!