REVISITED: I Want to Give Anime a Try. Where do I Start?

Hi, there. ChibiChonk, formerly known as SupremeOverlord, reporting in. A lot has happened since my original post of I Want to Give Anime a Try. Where Do I Start?”. 2020 is done with everyone’s bullshit and storming through like a toddler hyped up on Mountain Dew wiping their poop hands on everything. Many of you have binged just about every show and movie on your “to watch list” and are now scraping the bottom of the barrel for content. You’ve even watched Sharknado and all of its sequels. In desperation, you are probably wondering, “Should I try some anime?”

How do I know this, you ask?

Because my gamer, nerd, geek, etc. groups are exploding with everyone’s, “Me and my kids wants to start watching anime. Where do I start?” Or, “Haven’t watched anime in ages. Want to start up again. Where do I start?”

It made me realize that I need to update this thing and expand it a little. While my knowledge is no where all encompassing, I think I have a decent grasp of good entry anime because I’ve seen A LOT. We keep up with the new content as it comes out each season, and I stream anime almost all day. I revisit my favorite shows, but I also mix in genres I don’t necessarily care for. Again, I disclose that doesn’t mean you will like what I will like, but I do my best to give you starting place that is MUCH better than any blind recommendation.

Updates to this post will be in BLUE.

Hi. My name is Overlord ChibiChonk and I have an anime problem. Throughout my childhood, I was pretty indifferent to anime. I can honestly credit my friend, Antonio, for really igniting the flame of love for anime (and Jackie Chan). In the year 1997, Antonio brought over his collection of Ranma 1/2 and I fell in love.

I lurk quite a bit in various Twitch chats and the topic of anime often comes up.

Random Chat: Hey strimmer. I’ve never watched anime before. What do you suggest?

Strimmer: Oh, I’d start with X.

Other Random Chat People: X is trash. You need to start with Y.

I always cringe internally, because everybody starts listing their favorite anime without even considering whether or not that genre would be a fit for the anime-curious.

Stemming from that same issue:

Person 1: Yeah, I tried to get into anime and just couldn’t.

Person 2: What did you watch?

Person 1: Well, a lot of people told me I HAD to watch Sailor Moon, but I really don’t like magic.

This is the usually the product of a prior conversation where the anime-curious was given suggestions of popular anime without even considering their interests.

I have found that a lot of people intend to start the anime journey with their young children. It goes without saying that a good portion of anime is not family friendly. There are many a good, popular anime that people recommend on a whim (Goblin Slayer, Tokyo Ghoul, Baki, to name a few) that may not be appropriate for your children. The examples I gave have some sexual themes, gore, and/or extreme violence. Great anime, but maybe not for your four-year old. There is this misconception that because it is animated, it’s for children, and that isn’t completely true.

Consider this my attempt to help anyone out there that is curious about anime and needs a bit of assistance navigating the vast pool of content out there.

Genres

Let’s talk genres. If there is a subject matter, there is an anime genre for it. Like watching girls band together to fight evil using their magic? There is an anime for that. Want to see an innocent boy slowly turn into a ghoul? There is an anime for that. Want to see some post-apocalyptic shit with huge robots? I am sure that there is an anime for that.

In order for you to experience anime in a positive light, you need to find what genre speaks to you. Below is a list of what I consider the most common genres/sub-genres of anime. Keep in mind that anime can often fall into multiple genres. Most categories are self-explanatory, but for the ones that needed more details, I have included a very brief description:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Harem – Male protagonist surrounded by a group of females who adore him and/or fight for his attention.
  • Hentai – Translates to “pervert” in Japanese. Mature content with high nudity and explicit content.
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Idols
  • Isekai – Translates to “another world” in Japanese. The protagonist is somehow transported to a different world.
  • Magical Girls
  • Martial Arts
  • Mecha – Robots
  • Music
  • Mystery
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Psychological
  • Reverse Harem – Female protagonist surrounded by multiple males who are all potential love interests.
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Seinen – Demographically targeted for males 18-40. Contains more mature subject matter such as gore, sex, and violence.
  • Shoujou – Demographically targeted for young girls 10-18. The protagonist is typically female with romance and personal growth.
  • Shoujou-ai – “Girls Love”. Young female characters showing interest and affection for each other. Focuses on budding feelings and not intimacy.
  • Shounen – Demographically targeted for young males 10-18. Combination of action and adventure.
  • Shounen-ai – “Boys Love”. Male characters showing affection for each other focusing on the developing romance.
  • Slice of Life – Stories depicting realistic, ordinary life.
  • Sports
  • Supernatural
  • Thriller
  • Vampire
  • Yaoi – More sexually explicit than shounen-ai.
  • Yuri – More sexually explicit than shoujou-ai.

It would take me days to compile a list for each genre, and frankly, there are many genres that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

Just like anything worth doing in life, you need to be willing to do a little research on your own. It is the difference between finding something you will enjoy, or creating a misconception about anime and disliking it for no good reason.

Below, I have picked some of the more common genres and listed my top recommendation along with a runner-up. I’ll also identify where you can watch the anime (Crunchyroll, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Funimation). To also help parents out, I will try to give you an idea of whether it is family friendly. I only watch anime in Japanese with subtitles, so be aware that some of these suggestions may or may not have an English-dubbed version. Also, friends don’t let friends watch dubbed, meaning, enjoy it in the native language and use subtitles…but, you do you.

ACTION/MARTIAL ARTS/ADVENTURE

DEMON SLAYER: KIMETSU NO YAIBA, Top Pick
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Contains intense fighting, gore, death, and demons. High school-aged or older.

What is the show about? We follow protagonist, Tanjiro, on his journey to avenge his family that was murdered by a demon and to find a cure for sister who was turned into a demon during the attack. Tanjiro is a kind-hearted boy who goes through intense training to fight demons as a member of the Demon Slayer Corps. Along the way, he meets some interesting companions, and together, they fight to rid the world of demons. This anime is full of laughs, intense battle scenes, and beautiful animation.

HUNTER X HUNTER, Runner-Up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll, Netflix

Family-Friendly Rating: Contains some nudity, sexual suggestion, intense fighting scenes, although very brief and not a main theme in the show. High school-aged or older.

What is the show about? If you like martial arts, action, and adventure, I recommend Hunter X Hunter. The story follows protagonist, Gon, on his quest to become a hunter like his father before him. Gon encounters many friends and many foes in his travels. This long-running series will keep you entertained.

HAREM

SWORD ART ONLINE , Top Pick
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll, Netflix

Family-Friendly Rating: The series becomes more adult content as it progresses. High school-aged or older.

What is the show about? If you are unfamiliar with the harem genre, this is a good place to start. Sword Art is probably more accurately categorized as action/adventure BUT it is also a harem situation. Generally, a harem consists of a male protagonist with an all-female support cast. Generally, the members of the harem have a romantic interest in the protagonist, but not always. I chose to list Sword Art as a harem, because it is a safe entry point to determine if you want to even explore the harem genre. The story follows Kirito who gets trapped in a full-dive virtual reality system. Think virtual reality where all of your senses are fully immersed in the game. In a terrorist act, the players are trapped in the game. The only way the players would be released is if they beat all 100 floors of the castle, Aincrad. Unfortunately, if the player dies in the game, the player dies in real life as well. There is a mixture of romance, action, and suspense. It is one of my favorite shows.

We Never Learn, Runner-Up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Contains sexual suggestion and sexual innuendo. High school-aged or older.

What is the show about? Protagonist Nariyuki Yuiga is a poor high school student who must tutor three female geniuses to secure a scholarship to university. Each of his “students” want to enter fields completely opposite of their strengths. Slowly, each of his students develop feelings for him, but Nariyuki is completely clueless. We Never Learn is a combination of a harem, slice of life, and comedy.

HORROR

The Promised Neverland, Top Pick
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Violence and adult themes. High school-aged or older.

What is the show about? This anime is set in the year 2045. We follow the story of the orphans of Grace Field House. The children are treated well and seemingly very, very loved. The orphanage is cut off from the rest of the world, but the children are free to roam the area within the gates. Two of our protagonists break the rules to reunite a stuffed animal with its newly-adopted owner, however, what they find is their idyllic childhood is something much, much different.

SCHOOL-LIVE!, Runner-up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Violence and adult themes. High school-aged or older.

What is the show about? Yuki is a cheerful high school student that loves her friends and her after-school club, but something isn’t completely right…That is all I am willing to share on School-Live. To give any more context will give away what made the show great. This anime has some good twists and turns. It is a good entry-level horror with a bit of slice of life mixed in. I highly recommend.

ISEKAI

THE RISING OF THE SHIELD HERO, Top Pick
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Violence and adult themes. High school-aged or older.

What is the show about? If you’re interested in a show where the protagonist is whisked away to a different world, isekai is for you. Naofumi is a regular high school kid who is whisked away with three other men to a parallel universe to become the world’s “Legendary Hero”. From the start, Naofumi is at a disadvantage receiving the role of Shield Hero. Unfortunately for Naofumi, it only gets worse. He is betrayed and has his reputation ruined quickly turning Naofumi sour. Shield Hero is absolutely one of my favorites. Naofumi’s supporting cast are all adorable and his path to redemption is pretty satisfying. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Devil is a Part-Timer, Runner-up
Where can I find it? Netflix

Family-Friendly Rating: Moderate violence. Middle-school aged or older.

What is the show about? Our protagonist is actually the Demon Lord Satan who has escaped his world to modern Tokyo. Along with his demon general, Alciel, Satan tries to navigate modern Tokyo without his powers. They find themselves penniless, so Satan (who changes his name to Sadao) turns to part-time work at a burger joint. Oddly enough, Sadao enjoys his work and his new life in Tokyo and is making no real effort to return to his home. One day, he runs into his nemesis, Emilia who is also trapped in Tokyo. Each of their encounters are hilarious and slowly the animosity turns to friendship. While Rising of the Shield Hero is more dark in nature, Devil is more light-hearted and funnier. Devil is an older anime, but it is still a classic!

MYSTERY/PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

FUTURE DIARY (MIRAI NIKKI), Top Pick
Where can I find it? Cruncyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Adult themes and subject matter. High-school aged or older.

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) would be a good starting place. The story follows Yukiteru Amano, a 14-year old loner who lives on his cell phone. In a mysterious turn of events, Yuki is sucked into a game where his phone is capable of predicting the future. The goal of this game is to eliminate the other diary holders. The prize? The winner becomes a god and can prevent an impending apocalypse. During the game, Yuki encounters classmate, Yuno Gasai. She may be a bit unhinged, but no one is more loyal to Yuki than Yuno. There is plenty of action, murder, and mayhem. If you’re in the mood for something a bit darker, this is a good place to start.

STEINS; GATE, Runner-up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Adult themes and subject matter. High-school aged or older.

In this anime, we follow protagonist, Rintaro Okabe. He is a self-proclaimed “mad scientist” and brilliant for his age. Along with his friends, he runs a lab where they figure out how to send text messages into the past. With this technology, they unlock a form of time travel, and that is when everything start to unravel. From secret agencies, to death, and mental anguish, this anime has everything to keep you guessing.

REVERSE HAREM

OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB, Top Pick
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: I feel this is a fairly innocent anime. It does have very subtle references to sexual preferences. Middle-school aged or older.

What is the show about? This is a wonderful entry-level reverse harem. A reverse harm typically follows a female protagonist with an all-male support cast. The story follows our protagonist, Haruhi Fujioka. She is a scholarship student at the prestigious Ouran Academy. One day she stumbles upon the Third Music Room where six male students gather to entertain female clients with sweets and tea. One costly accident later, Haruhi finds herself indebted to the host club. Due to her gender-ambiguous appearance, she finds herself getting promoted to a host. There is plenty of comedy and romance. This would be a perfect place to introduce yourself to the reverse harem genre.

MY NEXT LIFE AS A VILLAINESS, Runner-up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Some intense scenes, but fairly harmless. Middle-school aged or older.

What is the show about? Villainess is actually an isekai/slice of life. However, it is also a reverse harem. We follow our protagonist, Katarina Claes. She wakes up after a head injury suddenly recalling that she died in our world and awoke in another. In her past life, she was a high school student addicted to romance and otome games. She suddenly realizes she woke in the world of the last otome game she played. We follow Katarina as she does everything in her power, using her knowledge of the game, to avoid the game’s doom flag. It is quite funny and, I think, very enjoyable.

ROMANCE

HI SCORE GIRL, Top Pick
Where can I find it? Netflix

Family-Friendly Rating: Completely innocent. Middle-school aged or older.

Want something that hits a little closer to home? Consider the romantic comedy Hi Score Girl. We follow the life of cabinet/coin-op gamer, Haruo. This anime takes us through the history of arcade gaming and the emergence of console gaming. Haruo meets Akira Ono, a multi-talented girl who also happens to kick ass at gaming. She hardly talks and somehow, they bond over their mutual love of gaming. It is a cute story of two kids falling in love with a heavy dash of gaming nostalgia.

MY LOVE STORY, Runner-up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Cute love story. Middle-school aged or older.

What is the show about? This anime is downright adorable. We follow male protagonist, Takeo Gouda. His sheer size makes him scary and intimidating to most, however, he has a heart of gold. He saves Rinko Yamato from a pervert and instantly falls in love with her. Convinced that she likes his attractive and popular best friend, Takeo-kun does his best to set them up even though he likes her. It is a cute love story and one that I think most would enjoy.

MUSIC

YOUR LIE IN APRIL, Top Pick
Where can I find it? Netflix

Family-Friendly Rating: There are some pretty troubling themes of abuse. High-school aged or older.

What is the show about? If you are a fan of classical music, you cannot go wrong with Your Lie In April. There is a heavy dose of Chopin played very well. Again, this is one of my favorite shows. This anime probably better fits as a romantic drama, but you can’t ignore the fact that the story revolves around music. We follow piano prodigy protagonist Kosei Arima through a mental breakdown that manifests in a way that he could no longer hear his own playing. After disappearing from musical competition circuit, he meets Kaori Miyazono, a whirlwind of a violinist hell bent on making Kosei her accompanist. It’s a story of tragedy, loss, struggling with mental issues, recovery, and love. There are themes of physical abuse, so be aware of that if this is a trigger for you. It’s a beautiful anime, so make sure you have tissues ready.

K-On!, Runner-up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Middle-school aged or older.

What is the show about? In this anime, we follow four girls trying to keep their school’s light music club alive. This is mostly a slice of life anime, but the story line follows the group as they perform. There is a really cute song about rice!

SLICE OF LIFE

FOOD WARS! SHOKUGEKI NO SOMA, Top Pick
Where can I find it? Crunchrolly, Netflix

Family-Friendly Rating: Foodgasms, fan service, and clothes ripping off. Definitely high-school aged or older.

What is the show about? Slice of life anime depicts everyday life scenarios. In Food Wars, we follow Yukihira Soma, a talented aspiring chef, through his school life at the Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute. Food Wars blends action and comedy to make this one of my favorite shows. Be forewarned that there IS quite a bit of fan service, so if you find the pandering to basic human needs disgusting, this show might not be for you. You will get a healthy dose of jiggly boobs, spontaneously ripping clothes, and foodgasms. If I recall, there might even be some molesting by tentacles. It is pretty heavy in the beginning, but calms down the further you get into the show. Don’t think just because the subject matter is food that the show is boring. The food battles are pretty intense and satisfy that “will he do it?” itch.

LOVE, CHUNIBYO & OTHER DELUSIONS!, Runner-Up
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Budding relationships and some sexual suggestion. High-school aged or older.

What is the show about? We follow the love story of Yuta and Rikka. Chunibyo is a kind of a hard term to explain in English, but generally, it is a slang term used to refer to that awkward phase where you aren’t a child, but not an adult and have delusions of grandeur. Generally, chunibyo behavior in anime is depicted by what we Americans would consider role-playing or LARP’ing (live-action role playing). Yuta is entering high school and is ready to put his chunibyo past behind him, but then he meets Rikka who keeps pulling him back in. In particular, the characters in Chunibyo have alternate identities where they pretend to be someone else. There are a lot of laughs in chunibyo and encourage you to give it a shot.

SEINEN/DARK FANTASY

GOBLIN SLAYER
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Rape, gore, violence. 18 and older.

What is the show about? Looking for something a little more mature? The seinen genre is geared for a more mature crowd typically featuring more gore, violence, and sexual content. If seinen appeals to you, Goblin Slayer will not disappoint. We begin the story following an innocent priestess and her group on a mission. Her group is quickly wiped out. In her moment of need, she is rescued by the Goblin Slayer. Who is the Goblin Slayer? All we know is he only accepts missions to eradicate goblins with extreme prejudice. And, it is glorious. Be prepared for sexual content, specifically rape, gore, and heavy violence. Goblin Slayer is definitely in my top ten. Sometimes, you just want to watch a badass kill everything.

SPORTS

HAIKYUU!!
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Fairly tame. Normal high-school aged shenanigans. Middle-school aged or older.

Indoor volleyball. Who knew? This show runs the same tropes as all sports shows. You have the highs of winning and lows of losing. Our protagonist, Hinata, is short, but what he lacks in height, he doubles in passion and unbridled talent. This show is outstanding

SHOUNEN-AI

YURI ON ICE
Where can I find it? Crunchyroll

Family-Friendly Rating: Suggestion of romance between men, but mostly innocent. Nothing overtly sexual. High-school aged or older.

What is the show about? This anime took my by surprise. YOI is categorized strictly as a sports anime, but it is most definitely shounen-ai as well. The story follows the protagonist, Yuri Katsuki, on his quest to rebuild his skating career after a poor showing in the Grand Prix finals. This anime was hailed for its positive portrayal of a homosexual relationship and its inclusion of mental health issues, specifically, the protagonist’s struggle with anxiety. The budding relationship between Yuri and his coach, Victor, is sweet and done tastefully.

VAMPIRE

CASTLEVANIA
Where can I find it? Netflix

Family-Friendly Rating: Violence and sexual suggestion. High-school aged or older.

What is the show about? Admittedly, I wanted to go with Vampire Knight, but decided to give Castlevania my vote. After his wife is burned at the stake for being a witch, Dracula declares war on the people of Wallachia. It has gore, blood, and some pretty great voice acting. You won’t be disappointed.

Anime for Children

As you can see, not many of my suggestions are youth appropriate. That is because, despite the fact that anime is…well, animated, the majority of the popular content out there is NOT for children. I do not have small children, so I do not watch anime that is age appropriate for smaller children. Here is a list to help those of you who are looking to start anime with elementary-aged to middle-school aged children: https://www.ranker.com/list/best-kids-anime-v1/ranker-anime

HONORABLE MENTIONS

The list I compiled were shows that I thought were good entry-level shows that fit would introduce a specific genre to you. I had a method to my madness. That being said, I missed A LOT of good anime that people tend to suggest. Here is a short list of anime that didn’t make my entry-level list that are good watches (in no particular order):

  • Tokyo Ghoul, Funimation
  • Violet Evergarden, Netflix
  • Maid-Sama, Netflix
  • Kaguya-Sama, Love is War, Crunchyroll
  • Dorohedoro, Netflix
  • Fruits Basket, Crunchyroll
  • Tower of God, Crunchyroll
  • Aggretsuko, Crunchyroll
  • The Irregular at Magic High School, Netflix

CLASSICS THAT YOU WILL EITHER LOVE OR HATE

This list is of anime that someone will ALWAYS recommend, but I feel they are not entry-level anime, or even the genre that you may enjoy. If you see these shows thrown out there, I consider these “classics” meaning any anime lover should watch them at least once:

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Akira
  • Fist of the North Star
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Sailor Moon
  • InuYasha

STUDIO GHIBLI

Okay. Unpopular opinion. Studio Ghibli is not for everyone.

To me, Studio Ghibli movies are like a fine wine. My opinion is you have to do a “wine tasting” before experiencing Studio Ghibli. If you base all anime off the one Studio Ghibli movie you have watched, then you are doing yourself a disservice. I’ve had people tell me they watched one Studio Ghibli movie and decided the movie was boring, therefore, all anime was boring.

Studio Ghibli movies are in a class by themselves, and for the adult looking to find their right anime, Studio Ghibli might not be the best start. On the flip side, it may be a good start for parents looking to watch some youth-friendly anime. Since they are movies, you can watch once and check it off your list.

My top three Studio Ghibli movies are: My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas on where to start. I hope that you enjoy your venture into anime. It is such an expansive and diverse world. There IS something out there for you!

2 comments

  • Good list. And I agree on the Ghibli movies. I like what I’ve seen of them, but they’re not representative at all of anime as a whole. Not that any one style is, but somehow the Ghibli movies feel very different. Unfortunately for a long time I think Ghibli was considered by many to be the “mature version of anime”, the material you could admit to liking without being embarrassed about it. It’s a good thing that those attitudes are changing now, at least where I live.

    Like

  • Hey! Thanks for stopping by and reading that massive wall of text! I agree. I think people are becoming more open-minded about anime where I am at. You will always have judgmental people, but I am able to be more open about my love of anime now than I have been in the past!

    Like

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