For the anime newcomer, you may be a bit lost initially, as the Anime industry has grown in popularity tremendously over years since establishing a western market. The anime market valued at about $25 Billion USD as of 2020 and is only expected to grow more.
With a meteoric rise coming and no end in sight, it’s only natural that anime newcomers are flooding in fast. With hundreds of shows in existence and so many options, it can also be extremely overwhelming. For anyone looking to see what the excitement is about, you may not even know where to start.
If you’re lucky, a friend with similar taste can guide you in. However, some people may not have friends with similar interests in anime. It’s also possible that your friend has a vastly different taste, so you may need some extra help. (Also, if your friend is a terrible person who recommend Boku no Pico as your first anime by this time you already have trust issues.)
So, after watching dozens of anime myself, I have taken the liberty of trying to give you that extra hand. I’ve sorted this list out by genre to give you plenty of options. No matter where your interest lies, I think this list will have a great option for you. Here’s my recommended list of some of the best shows for an anime newcomer.
The Shonen genre is known for its action, and usually is geared to a younger male audience. This isn’t to say that the story will be bad at the cost of the action. Though the focus will most likely be on the action and more simplistic in story. Some of the more well-known Shonen’s include Naruto and My Hero Academia
Seinen however is more mature in its content, and typically focused on more of a teen/young adult market. The high-paced, intense action is still present; however, the story is more cerebral and thought-provoking. For instance, shows like Tokyo Ghoul and One Punch Man are considered well-known Seinen series.
It’s a tough choice to narrow down this list with so many great options. Shows such as One Piece and Hunter x Hunter are legendary. However, for an anime newcomer I think that shows with so many episodes might be a bit overwhelming. So, for anyone mostly interested in the visuals, here are 2 great options to introduce yourself which might be easier to follow.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Widely considered as one of the best anime of all time, FMA:B is a household name since its release in 2009. This world is bound by a simple law: the law of equivalent exchange. Basically, in order for something to be obtained, something of equal value must be lost, and through this alchemy is possible.
The story follows Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse. After the death of their only parent, the boys desperately use alchemy in an attempt to bring them back. Unfortunately, they vastly underestimate the price of a life and it cost them dearly. Edward loses 2 limbs, and Alphonse almost loses his soul.
After barely escaping with their lives, the boys change their focus on restoring Alphonse’s body, and after many years seem to find the answer. The Philosophers Stone is a relic that allows one to seemingly bypass the law of equivalent exchange.
Their mission to obtain it throws them into a deeper plot far beyond their expectations. Threats on a level they could have never anticipated appear, and the boys’ quest became a journey of survival.
This show is as close to a masterpiece as I’ve ever seen. With fantastic visuals, voice acting, and probably the best story telling I have ever seen. The show’s theme is the price of playing God and presents a deep philosophical point for viewers. With only 64 episodes, it has great length that isn’t overwhelming, and enough action to keep any anime newcomer’s excitement.
Demon Slayer/ Kimetsu no Yaiba
One of the most popular of this generation, Demon Slayer has emerged as one of the fastest-rising stars of the anime/manga industry. The recently released Mugen Train movie is now, as of this moment, the #2 grossing anime movie in US history.
The story follows Tanjirou Kamado, a young boy who has become the primary caretaker of his family following his father’s death. After leaving to the local village to deliver charcoal, he returns home to a gruesome sight: His entire remaining family has been slaughtered, with the only survivor being his sister Nezuko, who at the cost of living through the attack, has been corrupted into a demon.
Thanks to Giyuu, a local demon slayer, and his Master Urokodaki, Tanjirou joins the demon slayer corps himself. With the help of comrades he met along the way like Zenitsu Agatsuma and Inosuke Hashibira, Tanjirou hopes to avenge his family and rescue what’s left of his sister’s humanity.
With such a likeable main character, as well as some excellent supporting characters; mature themes balanced with well-placed comedy as well as some of the best voice acting and animation seen in quite some time, Demon Slayer has placed itself as one of the must-watch shows of the new generation.
Season 1 aired with 24 episodes in 2019, and with the movies’ digital release set for June 22, 2021 it’s super welcoming to anime newcomers. It’s possible to finish the show and movie easily during summer breaks for anyone who is a fan of fantasy adventures.
For fans of comedy, you will have plenty of options to choose from. For fans of more ecchi (lewd) or ‘slapstick’ humor, there are a great many options like Trinity Seven or Maid-Sama. These shows tend to have outrageous moments that are quick and to the point.
For fans of more nuanced humor, do not worry. There are also shows with a bit more mature themes which also have its comedic moments. The likes of Cowboy Bebop or The Disastrous Life of Saiki K come to mind.
Comedy is one of the tougher things to narrow down because everyone can enjoy a different sense of humor. But personally, here are my choices for the best comedy anime to start with.
One of the most well-known shows of the comedy genre, Konasuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! is probably one the best shows to start with. Follow the journey of Kazuma Satou who was just a normal Otaku living in Japan. After dying in an ‘attempt’ to save a girl, he’s granted the ability to meet a goddess on his way to the afterlife.
Using her divine power, Aqua-sama grants Kazuma two choices: Either he can go directly to heaven (though that will be the end of his life entirely); or be given a second chance to be reincarnated into another world as a hero. She also presents the added blessing of taking anything he wants with him.
She mocks him while she does this, but being the vengeful man he is, Kazuma takes his anger out on her. Rather than take anything useful, he drags this goddess to the other world out of spite. So, until Kazuma can defeat the demon lord of this world, both of them are stuck there.
With the help of explosive pyromaniac Megumin and the masochistic warrior Darkness, as well as some of the lovely friends they meet along the way, Kazuma and Aqua live their lives in an effort to eventually make it out of this world!
This show is a comedic masterpiece in my opinion. The characters make the show completely, and their chemistry is easy to see. With unique personalities and some amazing dialogue between each other, as well as excellent writing, KonoSuba is great as it is.
Two seasons with 10 episodes each and 1 feature movie makes this show an easy watch.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
A show unlike any other, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is the perfect show for people who have a drier sense of humor. However, this is more of a Romantic-Drama with comedic moments than pure comedy, so be ready for some of the best laughs from one of the more mature shows out there.
‘Puberty Syndrome’ is a disease that affects adolescence in unreal ways causing supernatural phenomenon. It sounds too strange to be true, and for most of the general public they don’t really believe in it.
However, Sakuta Azusagawa was a victim of it himself, and the damage it did to his life has left him isolated from his school. His only friends that stuck with him are the genius Rio Futaba and athletic star Yuuma Kunimi, that is until one day Sakuta meets Mai Sakurajima.
A third-year student at his school, Mai was once a famous child actress. Now though, she has disappeared from the spotlight, and most don’t even know who she is. She can even get away with wearing a bunny girl costume in public and no one bats an eye.
A victim of Puberty Syndrome herself, Sakuta forms an unlikely relationship with Mai. The pair work together to not only save Mai but the other victims as they begin to uncover what exactly the disease really is.
Personally, I rate this show as one of my favorites from 2018. It’s a drama with some great comedic moments that tackles some of the real problems teens go through. Funny and charming at one moment, then serious and tragic the next, this show is a great roller coaster of emotions for any anime newcomer.
For people that enjoy a more futuristic setting, then this section has what you’re looking for. Set dozens – if not hundreds – of years from when they are made, shows like Ghost in the Shell are one of the many options you have. You can also check out a list one of my cohorts made here (more on this later) for some of the best sci fi shows. However, here are 3 of my recommendations for the Sci-Fi genre.
Meet Rintarou Okabe, a ‘scientist’ renting out a room to build his weird inventions with his friends, Mayuri Shiina, the childhood friend, and Hashida Itaru, who’s a pervy hacker. The trio work together to build the “Phone Microwave,” which sole purpose seems to be turning bananas into gel.
Effective, but not quite what Okabe is looking for, as he’s really searching for the breakthrough of the century. Well, as it turns out he accidently did in fact make an unintentional masterpiece. The phone microwave can also in fact alter the flow of time sending messages to the past. From here on, they try to manage one of the biggest discoveries of the world, as they can now bend the universe like never seen before.
Critically acclaimed for a reason, this show grips you in from the beginning with the way it delves into the deeper parts of scientific theories. It’s easy to watch as well, with only 2 seasons at about 23 episodes each, as well a feature film. This show is an absolute must-watch for the anime newcomer who’s into the Sci-Fi, Thriller, or psychological genres.
Imagine a world where you can see crime before it happens. ‘Sybil’ is the system that regulates the mental state of citizens and alerts the authorities when someone starts to show signs of malice through the altered color of a ‘Psycho Pass’. Inspectors are assigned to distribute justice to those whose Psycho Pass color gets clouded.
They also get to use Enforcers, criminals who are allowed to operate under the supervision. Rookie Inspector Akane Tsunemori begins her duty with her enforcer Shinya Kougami. After working together for some time, she begins to wonder what makes a criminal a criminal, and the tandem begins to unlock the secrets behind the Sybil System.
A thriller that bends the mind, Psycho-Pass is well-regarded as one of the better Sci-Fi anime of the 2010s. With 2 seasons (33 episodes total) and a movie, this show has an easy-to-digest number to view for anime newcomers. The perfect show to make you question whether the world is shaped by justice, or if justice is shaped by the world.
Welcome to an alternate Japan set in 2010. In this world the Holy Empire of Britannia has created ‘Knightmares’, pilot-controlled robots with just one capable of outpowering multiple tanks. This has led them to wage world conquest succeeding in dominating half the planet, Japan included.
Rebranded as Area-11, Britannia has subjugated the native people, putting them as second-class citizens and letting Britannians have free reign. Lelouch Lamperouge is a Britannian student who ends up caught in a terrorist attack between Area-11 rebels and Britanian Armed Forces.
He narrowly avoids death thanks to the Mysterious C.C., a woman he found while trying to escape the battle. She grants him the power of ‘Geass’, allowing him to control others with direct orders. Combined with his intellect, Lelouch uses this new power to exact revenge on the very empire he calls home as the new vigilante ‘Zero’.
This is my favorite show of all time. The characters, whether you like them or not, are excellent and provide great contrast with each other. The story is beautiful and has an amazing blend of serious and mature content with profound psychological themes. If an anime newcomer were to only watch one show on this list, please make this one, it has 2 seasons with 25 episodes each.
You can find this show on available on Funimation, Amazon Prime Video & Hulu.
Finally, we get to the heart (pun intended) of this list. Romance is ever-present in the world, and for those that enjoy seeing others find love, then anime has you covered. I personally haven’t seen much same-sex romantic shows, so if you were looking for recommendations, I truly apologize.
However, with shows like Toradora! and Horimiya being some of the more recent well-known shows for their romance, I will try my best to include 2 more shows you might want to try that I have seen.
Banri Tada has finally moved out of his hometown after graduating High School. Free at last, he moves to Tokyo to start Law School quickly befriending Mitsuo Yanagisawa. Together, they try and settle down and balance being young bachelors in Tokyo as well as Law Students.
The only dilemma is that Mitsuo’s old childhood friend turned stalker Kouko Kaga followed him there. Beautiful but stubborn, she refuses to leave Mitsuo’s side, despite his protests. Caught in the middle, Banri tries to make the best of the situation.
The reality is that Banri doesn’t remember much of life before graduation, and this was his second chance to live in his eyes. Not taking it for granted, anime newcomers can follow Banri in his quest to navigate friends, college and learning life as an adult – including all the Joys and Sorrows of finding and losing love.
Very simplistic, this show is honestly a great rendition of adult life. It’s already not easy to find your way through adulthood, but add the pressure of trying to start over and things get even harder. With only 24 episodes, this show is a great watch to see the real struggles and joys of finding love, and what it means to be loved.
The Quintessential Quintuplets
This story is so simple to follow, even the main cast of sisters can keep up. Fuutarou Uesugi is a Straight A student, but his family struggles financially. The Nakano Quintuplets have recently moved in and they are absolutely rich. Unfortunately, they are also terrible students and score about as well on their tests as if you dropped the same pen and paper in a fish tank.
They both have what the other needs, so the girls’ father strikes a deal. Fuutarou can tutor the girls and help them score higher, and the father will in turn pay him handsomely. At first it starts off rocky, but eventually Fuutarou learns that he also has more to learn as well.
While they are in fact sisters, all of the girls – Miku, Nino, Itsuki, Yotsuba, and Ichika – are all unique. While he discovers what makes them each special, they discover how much they care about the man who takes the time to know the real them.
Super wholesome to watch, this anime is one of the easiest for an anime newcomer to get into. Two seasons with a total of 24 episodes makes this show super palatable. Also, once you watch, you join the Waifu Wars to determine the best girl. There’s only one right answer but I’ll let you figure it out.
There’s a full list of some the best shows to start off your first viewings as an Anime Newcomer. Everyone’s tastes are different, so by all means please don’t be discouraged if you try out these shows and they don’t suit your preference.
As always, this is only a guide to give you anime newcomers an idea where to go. The final decision as to how you start your anime journey begins and ends with you.
This community is one the best I have been a part of, and we’re simply happy to have you here. If time is a concern, then check out a list of 10 best standalone movies from my friend Tamara.
As always, if you are curious to see some of the fans are watching, check out the current Spring 2021 watchlist in the weekly poll! Don’t forget to keep reading on Anime Corner and follow us for updates.