I’m going to let you in on a little secret…I used to hate Anime. “The animation quality is bad, the plots are absurd, and what’s with all the spiky hair?” I think newbies’ negative perception of Anime comes from the fact that the Anime that is heavily marketed is not the best that the medium has to offer.
I’ll give you a hint, if the show has a tie-in card game or over 100 episodes, you can skip it.
Anime has its flaws, but it also explores themes and ideas that never get talked about in western animation. Anime changed my life, so I wrote this article to change your mind about Anime.
I’ve made a list of Anime that I think are new-viewer friendly, while also showing what makes Anime special.
The Boy and the Beast
All the films by Mamrou Hosoda are brilliant and emotional but The Boy and The Beast is my favorite. Hosoda’s films are informed by his personal life. The Girl Who Leaped Through Time is about falling in love, Summer Wars is about getting married and meeting the in-laws, Wolf Children is about having kids, and The Boy and the Beast is about watching those kids grow up. While most films capture a snapshot of a character’s life, the works of Mamrou Hosoda capture a character’s growth through life.
It is wonderful when I gripping emotional drama becomes the highest grossing Anime movie of all time. There’s no giant robots, green hair, or any typical anime crap. This is a film whose success comes from the story alone. It was one of the best movies I’ve seen in theaters to date.
Now that you’ve gotten your feet wet with the more sophisticated Anime movies, it’s time to go into full-throttle fun with Redline. The film is 100% hand-drawn and took seven years to make. Every single frame of the film would make an epic desktop wallpaper. Redline’s plot doesn’t get any more intelligent than “race cars in outer-space” but the movie is sold on its eye-gasmic animation and supreme soundtrack. This is film best watched with friends and in an “altered state.”
It’s angels and demons going to high school to learn about humanity. The twist is that the angels and demons suck at their respective roles. Gabriel is an angel who quickly gets addicted to junk food and video games, while the demon Satania tries to commit acts of evil and fails in hilarious ways. Sometimes its nice to have an Anime that’s just a funny cartoon.
If you couldn’t get enough blasphemy from Gabriel Dropout then you’ve got to check out Angel Beats. This show is about high school students stuck in purgatory after their untimely deaths. These students try to rebel against God by acting disruptive and throwing rock concerts. The only one who stands in the way of their fun is the student council president know only as Angel.
Angel Beats has laughs, action, as well as genuine drama– proving that the best comedy comes from tragedy. It remains one of the few Anime that I’ve watched multiple times. I only need to hear that tear-jerking theme-song to make me want to watch the series all over again.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a fast-paced funny show that serves as a metaphor for being an adult and starting a family. That is if your family consisted of dragons that can shape-shift into sexy maids and butlers. It’s a risqué series that doesn’t shy away from more serious moments. Get ready to cry during the show, and not always from laughter.
Contemporary wizards summon heroes from history and mythology to battle over the Holy Grail. However, the show does more than have King Arthur fight Cthlulhu (which totally happens); Fate Zero has a lot to say about mythology and how we perceive heroes. The lead character, Emyia Kiritsugu, is one of the most complicated characters I’ve encountered in fiction.
Akame Ga Kill
The strength of this series comes from how the heroes and villains are exactly the same characters but they’re just on opposite sides of the war. Akame Ga Kill combines kick-butt fight scenes, humor, and heart-breaking tragedy.
Magical Girl Madoka
This show has to been seen to be believed. On the surface, it looks like Barbie Fairytopia but the show’s darker intensions slowly bubble to the surface. Magical Girl Madoka has gotten a cult following because of how serious it gets and a bad reputation with conservative parents for how dark they went in a “kid’s show.” Watch if you dare.
Black Rock Shooter
Very similar to Madoka in that it’s about school girls kicking the multi-colored snot out of each other in a magical realm. The action of their series is top-notch but it’s really the drama that wins the day. The creators assembled a cast of characters that are so engaging, you can barley look away for fear of missing something. I have never felt so terrified watching someone drink a cup of coffee.
This Anime broke my heart and my soul. There were episodes that had me crying so hard that my face resembled a Logo-man melting on a lightbulb. While not a perfect series, it is unforgettable.
Death Note is the anime that made me take Anime seriously. Dark, political, and philosophical, no wonder it’s still being talked about. Light Yagami, a boy genius, is given a notebook by a death god. Whoever’s name is written in the notebook will die. Light uses this new dark ability to rid the world of criminals– but at the risk of becoming a criminal himself.
This is the most messed-up show I’ve ever watched that I’ve actually liked. The God of time-space is dying so he summons twelve humans and dictates that one of them will inherit his throne. Armed with diaries that have entries from their future selves, the humans try to kill each other to become a god. Watch the first three episodes and then the you’ll now if the show is your cup of tea.
Trigger Happy Havoc
It’s a Who-dun-it combined with a battle royal. Students trapped in a high school must commit one flawless murder to escape. However, if the classmates can uncover who the killer is and prove it in a trial the killer is executed. Stylish kills combined with pink-blood to get past the censors make Trigger Happy Havoc an artsy show, in addition to being violent one.