First impressions are extremely important when it comes to introducing non-anime watchers to anime. Show them the wrong one and their view of the entire industry will plummet. I’ve had friends tell me they refuse to watch anime because they assumed it was all an ecchi harem.
How do you properly introduce someone to anime? Well, you need to consider your audience. Do they like fantasy? Action? Slice of life? Show them something that’s their cup of tea.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s some great suggestions organized by genre.
Disclaimer: I’ve omitted the comedy genre because many comedy-heavy anime rely on the viewer’s understanding of Japanese culture and humor.
Action – Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan has reigned as one of the most popular action shows of all time and even may go down as one of the greatest anime of all time too. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all of humanity is encased in three walls in order to protect themselves from the man-eating titans. One day, the titans break through one of the walls, and Eren Jaeger, the protagonist, witnesses the death of someone close to him. With a burning passion to eradicate the titans, Eren enlists in the Survey Corps, a military unit tasked with exploring the world outside the walls and fighting the titans.
Fans who have watched a majority of the anime and read the manga will know that the plot summary provided is just the tip of the iceberg. Attack on Titan is full of twists and turns, earning the show its well-deserved hype. Attack on Titan is currently available to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Funimation. So, it’s easily accessible for any level of anime fan.
Fantasy – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood first aired in 2009 and to this day holds a place in the top 10 anime on any ranking website. The story follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who attempt human transmutation in order to revive their deceased mother. However, the laws of alchemy (In order for something to be obtained, something of equal value must be lost.) cause the brothers to fail, resulting in the loss of Alphonse’s body and Edward’s arm and leg. Years later, the brothers begin to search for the Philosopher’s Stone with the help of their military allies. However, Edward and Alphonse quickly learn about the true nature of the Philosopher’s Stone as well as the dark history of their country.
This anime falls under many genres. However, its heavy use of alchemy is why I placed it under the fantasy genre. This anime is also dark and has many heavy psychological moments. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is perfect for those who also love well-developed heros and villains and philosophical commentary. This anime is currently available to watch on Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, and HBO Max.
Mystery/Thriller – Death Note
Death Note first aired in 2006 and, like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, has continuously placed in the top 10 anime on any ranking website. The anime causes viewers to evaluate their morals while struggling to pick a side during intense psychological battles. Light Yagami, a college student, finds a notebook called the Death Note, dropped by the death god (shinigami) Ryuk. Light learns that whoever’s name written in the notebook shall die. Light decides to test the notebook by writing a criminal’s name in it and, lo and behold, it works. With his newfound power, Light becomes his own version of a god named Kira, where he can enact deathly judgment on whomever he feels. He gains the attention of the incredibly intelligent detective, L, who tries to figure out Light’s true identity.
The anime heavily relies on dramatic irony. Since the viewer already knows who the culprit is right from the first episode, seeing how L tries to come to the truth and how Light tries to outmaneuver him is very entertaining. Death Note is a horrific ballad between two intelligent characters guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. This anime is currently available to watch on Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation, and HBO Max.
Drama – A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice is an extremely well-done and touching anime movie produced by Kyoto Animation. The story follows Shouya Ishida and Shouko Nishimiya who have known each other since elementary school. Shouya, a cruel elementary school kid, bullies Shouko when she transfers into his school because she is deaf. With the help of his friends, Shouya ostracizes Shouko and makes her life a living hell. When Shouko’s mother notifies the school of the bullying, Shouya’s friends toss him under the bus so that they can take no blame. Shouko transfers out of the school and Shouya becomes the new victim of bullying. In his third year of high school, Shouya is haunted by the damage he caused Shouko back in elementary school and sincerely regrets his actions. He decides to set out on a journey to find Shouko, make amends, and get to know her for who she is.
A Silent Voice is guaranteed to pull at the heartstrings and have you shed some tears here and there. Kyoto Animation develops the cast in a way that causes you to hate who they want you to hate and love who they want you to love. The movie also builds a dynamic hero and villain structure, despite it being in a realistic setting. Shouya and Shouko’s relationship is very heart-warming too. A Silent Voice is currently available to watch on Netflix.
Romance – Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club holds a special place in my heart because it the gateway anime for me and many of my friends. The story follows Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student at the elite Ouran Academy. While trying to find a place to study, Haruhi discovers the Host Club. She tries to get away from them, but ends up breaking an expensive vase belonging to the Host Club. As a way to repay her debts, Haruhi must pose as a man and work as a host for the Host Club.
Ouran High School Host Club is an amazing starter anime for anyone who likes a good mixture of romance and easy-to-understand comedy. Not only does it have a catchy opening theme song, but it also serves as a good way to introduce new viewers to different anime character tropes. Ouran High School Host Club is available to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Funimation.
It may come as a shock that I didn’t include Naruto, Gintama, One Piece, or any other popular shonen anime. While these shows may serve as a great gateway anime for new fans, it may deter many fans away because of their 500+ episodes. The anime I’ve included in the list above contain less than 100 episodes, making it great long-term anime recommendations.
Gabriella is a 21-year-old writer and artist from Texas and currently goes to university in New York. Her favorite anime shows include Mob Psycho 100, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, and Kill la Kill. In her free time, Gabriella likes to watch anime, read manga, and play the newest games on her Nintendo Switch.
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