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Best Starter Anime

Getting started with anime isn’t quite as simple a feat as it should be. For a lot of people, anime is viewed as the nerdiest of nerdy pastimes, and not the “cool” nerdy. That said, anime is freaking badass enough that any amount of social stigma shouldn’t matter. I can, of course, get behind the idea that anime isn’t actually something that everyone can enjoy, as some people will be turned off simply at the fact that it is animated. colorful. Or good. There are some weird people out there. Anyway, if you or someone you know is looking to get started with anime, this is a list that we have put together of the best starter anime in no particular order.

Cowboy Bebop


Left to right: Jet, Spike, Faye, Ed, Ein
This classic, action anime is probably one of the most popular as peoples’ first anime. Released back in ’98, Cowboy Bebop has a lot to offer. First and foremost, it boasts one of the most beautiful uses of the older cel-animation style; the entire show is hand drawn, unique, and absolutely gorgeous. To match the unique and classy visual style, Bebop also has what is considered one of the best soundtracks in all of anime. [Composed by Yoko Kanno and performed by her band “Seatbelts”](http://www.animeinspectors.com/top-5-composers/), the soundtrack has tons of tracks of out of this world music; that should be invitation enough for anyone getting into anime. The characters have a great deal of depth and growth and the world itself is large, interesting, and inviting. The story follows a duo of space bounty hunters, the classy, cool Spike Spiegel and the former police-man Jet Black in their adventures and misadventures in space. Along the way, they gather a few more crew members like Faye Valentine the sexy and sassy criminal, Ed the little girl that is a genius hacker, and Ein the Welsh Corgi that just happens to be the smartest being on their ship plagued with the inability to speak.

Bebop is more episodic and features character-centered episodes instead of a congruent story which makes jumping into it extremely easy as well. Because of this, it also builds more thoughtful characters. As I’ve said in the past, good characters and character development are my most sought after aspects in anime and Cowboy Bebop delivers on these fronts magnificently. It is also worth noting that the show has one of the best English dubs of any anime, which may make it easier to watch for some. Two wrap up, here is why Cowboy Bebop is one of the best starter anime:

  • Beautiful and personal visual style
  • Masterpiece of a soundtrack
  • Fantastic, believable characters and relationships
  • Intriguing, original concept
  • Episodic nature; not too deep or story heavy
  • Fantastic English dub

Written by addmanrcace

Fullmetal Alchemist

The anime Fullmetal Alchemist was created in 2003 by studio Bones while the manga was still being published. As with many anime that set out to adapt their source material the show quickly caught up with the still-being-published manga. The shows creators at that point decided to create their own story arc instead of postponing the show and waiting for the manga to catch up. What ensued was a creative story that had some major flaws but was a quality anime in its own right. Fast forward to 2009 and studio Bones set out again to animate Fullmetal Alchemist, but this time they decided to follow the now-completed manga much more closely than before. This second adaption of Fullmetal Alchemist (called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) consisted just as strong of a story as the first adaption but because the story was following the manga more closely, the story was a lot smoother and the anime was able to fix many of the gripes that existed about the first adaption.

The two shows combined create a universe that encapsulates the pinnacle of what anime has to offer while also paying reference, in terms of style, to shows that exist outside of the world of anime. The setting of the show also mimics that of Western Europe instead of Japan which creates a slightly less cultural shock to those starting out in the anime genre. Both adaptions of the show are excellent for beginners because the shows have such a well put together story that is driven by wonderful characters and backed up with plenty of action that it makes it easy for new viewers to become immersed in the shows. They will forget that what they are watching is truly anime. Both adaptions are also supported with excellent soundtracks which will leave the viewer fully immersed in the world created by studio Bones. These shows demonstrate to the viewer that anime can be just as good, if not better, than the American TV shows and animation that they have grown up around and have loved.

Now to the contentious subject that must not be danced around any longer. What show is better between the 2003 and 2009 versions of the show? I will be upfront about this. There are strengths and weaknesses that exist with both shows and there are things that you miss out on by only watching one of the versions. However, from the standpoint of a new anime viewer I believe that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the better of the two shows to watch. Its pacing is better and its story is significantly smoother than the original’s story, plus the 2009 adaption follows the manga significantly better than the original did. This matter is complicated however. Due to the fact that overall Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a smoother show to watch, it is more difficult to watch the 2003 version after seeing Brotherhood which is a real shame because one misses a lot of wonderful character development and story telling if one skips one of the versions. So my conclusion is as follows: If you are a new anime viewer who thinks you might like to watch both adaptions at some point, then I would recommend starting with the 2003 adaption. It is slightly more difficult to view but it still provides a great story and provides an excellent base to jump off one’s anime career. Just be sure to watch Brotherhood after finishing the 2003 adaption. However, if you feel that this show might make or break your love for anime, I recommend starting with Brotherhood and then returning to the original 2003 version at a later date. It will be more difficult to watch the 2003 version this way, but if you do not you will miss out on a lot of great character development and new in depth story that one does not get through Brotherhood. Ideally, one would watch both adaptions in order as one giant show, but that might prove daunting for a new viewer, so take that into consideration. Also, just like Cowboy Bebop, the English dub is fantastic.

[![FMA VS Brotherhood](http://res.cloudinary.com/dhgvwssi8/image/upload/v1488230213/FMA-VS-Brotherhood_pl8ckl.jpg)](http://res.cloudinary.com/dhgvwssi8/image/upload/v1488230213/FMA-VS-Brotherhood_pl8ckl.jpg)
“Ah yes, this debate does span an eternity.”
All in all, both Fullmetal Alchemist adaptions provide the pinnacle of anime storytelling with excellent characters and great action. There is a reason this show is considered one of the best shows in anime and one of the best experiences for both new and old fans of anime. One cannot go wrong with selecting this anime as the foundation to begin what will hopefully be a long and enjoyable life experience in the anime.

To wrap up:

  • Captivating world
  • Great story, with good closure
  • Incredible animation and soundtrack
  • Two options to start from
  • Great English dub

Written by Krogoth22

Death Note


For the longest time, Death Note was my all time favorite anime/entertainment of any kind (until I experienced Hunter X Hunter 2011). It is damn good. I’ve never seen anything as dark, suspenseful, and gripping. With a realistic setting, believable characters, and a super intense and thought-provoking plot, Death Note offers enough to draw in almost anyone. Another interesting thing about Death Note is that it is charged with loads of moral questions but it leaves all ideas and opinions completely up to the viewer. While that sounds like it might be a little bit too heavy for some viewers, the way that it is presented isn’t really heavy at all. It is fun to think about but it isn’t necessary for the story to move forward.

While on the subject of the story, Death Note has an extremely simple and easy to follow premise. It poses Light Yagami (genius student, son of a detective, and full of himself) with the opportunity to rid the world of all crime by killing every criminal in existence with just their face and their name. On the other end of the spectrum is L, the world’s top detective (and super weird dude) who is investigating the mysterious deaths of criminals around the world. Quite a few questions about morality and justice arise throughout the series and none of them are even attempted to be answered which is what makes Death Note intriguing. Although it may sound like a mystery show, it is way more of a suspenseful thriller.

The characters introduced are one of the huge driving forces of what makes the show good. L is my favorite character from anything. Ever. Light, L, and the rest of the cast are pretty deep, relate-able, and dynamic. For someone just getting into anime, the characters of Death Note are easy to like and follow. It isn’t 100% realistic, like any anime, which is a good thing as it can introduce some of the more fantastical aspects of anime in a way that isn’t obtrusive at all. Both the Japanese and the English version are amazing and it can be recommended either way. Also, both the art and the soundtrack are extremely well done to fit the unique mood and feel of the show.

To wrap up:

  • Gripping story
  • Realistic setting
  • Involves moral issues that engage the viewer, although not in an obstructive
  • Fantastic, relatable characters
  • Great English dub

Written by addmanrcace


Now, some people who know anime as well as I do may be surprised to see this overlooked show on this list. Unlike the three shows stated before this one, Hyouka is not a classic anime nor did it go headfirst into the mainstream market. But for viewers who prefer more soothing and slice-of-lifey types of shows, this 2012 creation is a perfect place to start. To kick off the reasons on why this is a great anime to start off with, and like the three other shows previously mentioned, the art is absolutely phenomenal and it has a kick-ass soundtrack to boot. Kyoto Animation (aka, the Gods of the moe and slice-of-life) really poured all they had into this and made something truly spectacular. The composer, Kohei Tanaka, also does a great job by bringing the show to life with some incredibly beautiful orchestral pieces. This show also boasts a very enjoyable cast of relatable characters (Oreki, Chitanda, Satoshi, and Ibara) that help glue the show together as well as provide an entertaining experience. The characters of this show also grow over the course of the series which just further extenuates how relatable they are.

Left to right: Oreki, Satoshi, Ibara, Chitanda
What helps Hyouka at being such a great starting show is that it is a combination of multiple genres (slice-of-life and mystery with a little bit of comedy and romance) and it executes them all well. Somehow, Hyouka manages to make mundane situations very perplexing and thought-provoking which really says something. Though the localization isn’t necessarily the best ever, it is a ton better than trying to start somebody off with say…Clannad or Azumanga Daioh; those shows are both great in their own respects, but their localization is terrible for somebody just beginning.  Also, Hyouka manages not to be littered with fan-service and actually has little to none for that matter. And lastly, Hyouka is a good way to introduce the ultra-stereotype of  high school to a new viewer because we all know that if they choose to stick with watching anime, they better get used to it.

To wrap it up:

  • Amazing art/fantastic soundtrack
  • Well developed, relatable characters
  • An intriguing new take on several genres
  • No fan-service/not horrible localization
  • A good way to introduce noobies to anime tropes that doesn’t throw it in your face.

Written by ringwormsherm

Any Film by Hayao Miyazaki


Hayao Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and since then has directed, written, and produced some of anime’s greatest films. Miyazaki has been called the Walt Disney of the east and his films equal the grandeur, heart, and quality of Disney’s greatest creations. The films created by Studio Ghibli cover anything from heart-warming adventures such as* Kiki’s Delivery Service*, to dark, complicated pieces such as *Princess Mononoke *and everything in between. Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, and their films provide encompassing and brilliantly crafted stories that demonstrate the power of Japanese animation. Each of his films provides a different look into genres of anime while keeping the run time under three hours which allows new individuals to experience anime without having to commit to any single anime season for the long haul. Also none of Miyazaki’s films are bad. Though some are better than others, all of them will provide a wonderful viewing experience full of suspense, action, romance, and both peaceful and chaotic journeys. Miyazaki’s animation is beautiful and his directing is phenomenal. Couple that with the excellent characters, music, and voice acting and his movies create worlds that any anime fan will love to travel to over and over again. Miyazaki’s encompassing talent at making great movies is what makes any film by him a safe and quick, but also excellent introduction for anyone who is thinking about entering the magical world of anime.

A beautiful tribute to Miyazaki and his films.

Written by Krogoth22

And thus concludes our intro to anime list. Of course, there are many other shows and movies out there that make an amazing first experience in anime. This list, however, is what we feel comfortable recommending to anyone. If someone is not interested in any of the items on this list, then there’s a strong chance that anime may not be for them.



Addison is a 23 year old web developer in Grand Rapids, MI. He enjoys cooking, board games, and hunting the most dangerous game. His favorite anime, aside from all of them, is Hunter X Hunter, maybe.

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