So, you got interested in anime but you don’t know where to start? You want to know what your otaku friends are talking about or even improve your Japanese skills but are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of shows out there?
Don’t despair, I am here to help. In this two part series I am going to present to you the shows you just need to watch as a beginning anime fan. However, instead of giving you a Top 10 list or the most successful anime of each genre I decided to divide my recommendations into different categories that should give you a good overview over all the different aspects of anime.
Of course these choices just reflect my personal opinion so feel free to add your own favorite shows in the comment section down below. Let’s get started!
Shows that cheer you up
Luckily one of anime’s greatest strength is its humor that can leave you gasping for air. These recommendations are perfect after a long day at work when you just want to relax and unwind.
Let me start with Gintama, a classic when it comes to anime. Over 40 million copies of the original manga have been sold so far so you could say it’s a big thing in Japan. The story is set in Edo Japan and shows the adventure of the blue-haired samurai Gintoki. It’s hard to describe Gintama’s style and humor if you haven’t watched the show yourself so let me just say that the story is as ridiculous as it is funny and Gintoki will certainly win a special spot in your heart.
Arakawa under the Bridge might be a random choice for this list and I am the first one to admit that its style might put some people off. But once you grow a liking on it its sense of humor won’t fail to make you smile. Definitely give it a try if you are into shows with weird and unique styles. I strongly recommend everyone to at least watch the first episode to get a feeling for Japan’s weird sense of humor.
Last but not least we have a show that was part of the summer 2014 season. Barakamon is a show for those of you that prefer a more down-to-earth kind of humor and a setting that’s easier to relate to. Barakamon shows the struggles of professional calligrapher Handa who escapes from his busy life in Tokyo in order to find new inspiration for his work. Not only does this anime introduce you to the daily life of a calligrapher but it also entertains you with its lovable characters. If you need a quick pick-me-up give Barakamon a try.
Shows that take you on an adventure
Deciding which shows to include in this category was hard since there are so many long-running shows out there that not only take you on an adventure across a fictional universe but also show you how the characters encounter new struggles and grow with each one of them. What I am talking about are shows like Naruto, Dragon Ball Z and Co. So instead of trying to find out which one of these shows is the most popular one I decided to pick my personal favorite, One Piece.
Deciding to start watching a show with close to 700 episodes out there can be intimidating, but trust me, once you get into the story you’re going to wish it would never end. One Piece shows the best adventure in my eyes since it literally takes the characters and the viewers to new worlds. Calling this show a must-watch is an understatement – One Piece is already an anime legend.
If you prefer a lesser known but equally entertaining show I recommend Samurai Champloo. It has a unique style that shows a mix of Edo Japan and modern elements. Just imagine a group of samurai rapping and bandits acting like gangsters and you will get a feeling for this show. The three main characters will certainly take you on a journey that you won’t forget.
Shows that will make you think
Psycho Pass shows the dystopic Japan of a not-so-distant future where people constantly get scanned in order to determine whether they have criminal potential. If their Psycho-Pass exceeds a certain limit they are secluded from society. It is a great show for fans of dystopian stories à la Brave New World. There is also a big plot twist towards the end that will make you reflect some more about the meaning of free will and what it means to be human.
For people that prefer slower shows without all the action and fights of Psycho Pass should check out Mushishi. We have already admired its great soundtrack, but I have to mention it again because of its interesting and deep storyline. It shows the conflict between humans and nature as the viewers follow the protagonist on his lone journey. Mushishi draws you in with its peaceful setting and beautiful design but also brings up a lot of questions that will make you think.
Lastly, we present you a show with a plot that is set closer to everyday life. Honey and Clover tells the story of a group of college students that struggle with friendship, dreams and love. Even though the anime itself aired already some time ago it was recently adapted into a live action movie and a Japanese drama so you might want to take a look at the different versions. If you’re either at the same point in your life or just a fan of college stories and daily struggles of adolescents, then Honey and Clover is a must-watch.
This was the first part of our list of top anime for beginners. The first anime shows you watch will always remain special to you so I hope this list will make the choice easier for some of you. In the next part of this article we are going to cover a few more categories so feel free to tell us your suggestions and also to add your personal recommendations to the list.
What was your first anime and do you still like it to this day? Your comments are more than welcome down below.