12 Anime Reccomendations For Beginners
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12 Anime Reccomendations For Beginners

12 Anime Reccomendations For Beginners

When I was in middle school and high school, watching anime made me one of the weird kids. Now that I'm in college no one judges me for it, but I do find more people who want to nerd out about it with me. I've never understood the stigmas associated with anime.

Anime is not a "cartoon" in the sense that it is explicitly for children. It is a film medium all its own with genres ranging from action and adventure to drama and romance to horror and fantasy. There is nothing anime can't do and it has left no genre unexplored.

If you've been thinking you want to get into anime but haven't known where to start or are afraid you'll find only weird, disagreeable content, look no further. Age ratings and places to watch are included where applicable. With the exception of Haikyuu, every anime listed below has a version dubbed in English or will have one released soon. All are available with English subtitles and Japanese audio. I've personally viewed each series or film and make the recommendations from a position of adoration.

1. Blood+

For people who like: horror, dark fantasy, vampires, romance, historical fiction and more.

This is no Twilight, but it's still a fantastic start for an adult wanting to venture into anime. It has a strong female lead, a thrilling story, a lot of character growth, and awesome battle scenes. It is loosely based on a film called Blood: The Last Vampire that did very well in the United States. Not for kids. Common Sense Media says 16 and up. Beware of violence! Available without a subscription on Crackle.

2 Fate/Zero

For people who like: Historical figures, magic, drama, action, strategy, and more.

I was introduced to this one relatively recently, but it's up there as one of my favorites. Participants in the Holy Grail War summon historical spirits to fight for them. The last one standing wins the Holy Grail, an omnipotent wish granting device. The characters are fascinating, the animation is gorgeous and the story is excellent. Common Sense Media doesn't have a recommendation, but I would guess 14 to 15 and up. It can be violent, but not often. Some scenes are very intense and terrifying. Available on Netflix.

3. Inuyasha

For people who like: Feudal Era Japan, fantasy, adventure, action, demons, romance, and more.

A classic anime for many. Inuyasha covers the story of a girl who falls in a well and gets transported back in time to Feudal Japan. There she meets Inuyasha, a half demon, and gets herself involved in the misadventure of a lifetime. The story is deep, the characters are charming, and the lore (while not entirely accurate) is fascinating. Common Sense Media says 11 and up. I would advise ages 13 to 14 and up, personally. Partially available on Netflix.

4. Ouran High School Host Club

For people who like: Comedy, school settings, social commentary, queer identities and subtext, drama, romance and more.

This one needs special emphasis. Ouran is wonderful. It's hilarious and heartfelt. It has an amazing protagonist. It's not a gooey, gross romance by any stretch. It is charming. It has many characters who are evidently queer, and any fun poked at these identities is meant to be just that: fun. The story is about Haruhi. She finds herself indebted to the host club, a group of boys who spend their club hours entertaining and talking to young ladies at the ultra-rich Ouran academy. Not realizing Haruhi is a girl, they sign her up to be a host in order to pay back her debt. Common Sense Media doesn't have a recommendation, but 11 and up is probably fine. There is no violence or drug use. Sexual content and swearing is minimal and handled with care. Available on Netflix.

5. Full Metal Alchemist

For people who like: Action, adventure, fantasy, science, steampunk, drama, military and more.

I once heard that people who enjoy Avatar: The Last Airbender need to make sure they watch Full Metal Alchemist. The story is about Edward Elric and his younger brother Al. In order to restore their own bodies after a failed alchemical experiment, they join the state military and get entangled in some seriously fascinating events. The characters are fantastic and the story will keep you thoroughly engaged. Common Sense Media says 13 to 14 and up. Violence is prevalent and some scenes are very intense. There is also a series called Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood that follows a similar story, but I believe this series is far superior. Available on Netflix.

6. Free and Haikyuu

For people who like: boys being boys, comedy, school settings, sports, drama, friendship and more.

Free and Haikyuu are both about boys in high school playing sports. Free is about swimming. Haikyuu is about volleyball. Haikyuu is funnier. Free is a bit more dramatic and heartfelt. Haikyuu has more characters and more overlapping story lines. Free centers pretty strongly on a small group. In Haikyuu, the boys wear volleyball uniforms. In Free, the boys don't wear a lot of clothes. Both are charming and thoroughly enjoyable, centering on teamwork, friendship, and "the rest of our lives." Both are probably suitable for ages 13 and up and available on CrunchyRoll without a subscription. Free is available in English on Funimation, but only with a subscription.

7. Eureka Seven

For people who like: world building, action, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, adventure, underdogs, and more.

Another personal favorite of mine. Eureka Seven is nothing short of a masterpiece. The world is beautiful. The cast of characters is diverse and flawed. I hate the same characters I adore within a single episode. The story is revealed just a little bit at a time. The character growth is stunning. If you're shaking your head thinking you won't enjoy it because it includes mecha (giant robots) and other elements of the sci-fi genre, don't push it aside. It is not beautiful in spite of those things. They only add more. That's coming from someone who genuinely dislikes sci-fi. Bleak and beautiful. Emotionally intense. Sexual themes and a lot of violence at play. Common Sense Media says 16 and up. Available on Netflix.

8. Samurai Champloo

For people who like: hip hop, art, Japan, comedy, drama, action, and more.

Another recent discovery, but a beautiful anime. Samurai Champloo is both funny and dramatic, beautiful and ugly, slow and full of action. The story takes place in some alternate Edo Period Japan where historical accuracy matters little. In the story, a girl name Fu employs the assistance of two samurai men to protect her and help her find the "Samurai who smells of sunflowers." The two men really don't like each other, but they set off on a journey nonetheless. Samurai Champloo won't disappoint. Not for kids. Ages 16 to 17 and up. Chock full of profanity, violence and sexuality. Available on Netflix.

9. Durarara

For people who like: Action, drama, suspense, intrigue, dark fantasy, gangs, and more.

This anime follows the dangerous and chaotic lives of the residents of Ikebukuro, a metropolitan portion of Japan. There are gang wars, pharmaceutical giants, fantastical creatures, and humans with incredible stories. Durarara is full of suspense and will keep viewers endlessly guessing. It also addresses some serious psychological and moral issues. Common Sense Media doesn't have a rating, but I would guess it is suitable for ages 14 and up. Available on Netflix.

10. The Wind Rises

For people who like: history, historical fiction, drama, romance and more.

While every single one of Hayao Miyazaki's films deserve to be touted and adored, this one (while not my favorite, that would be Princess Mononoke) doesn't receive the attention it warrants. The Wind Rises is about the life of an aeronautical engineer in Japan and covers 1918-1945. In the story he grows, loves, and dreams about his future and the future of his designs. It would take a hard heart not to adore this film. The film is rated PG-13 but is probably suitable for ages 11 and up. It may be hard to find for rent. The DVD can be purchased on Amazon.

11. Wolf Children

For people who like: drama, family, children, coming of age, love and more.

A young woman named Hana falls in love with a man who turns out to be a wolf. This film covers her struggle with raising two half wolf, half human children. It is stunning and emotional and well worth your time. Despite the fantasy in the tale, it is so easy to relate to. Rated PG. It may be hard to find for rent. The DVD can be purchased on Amazon.

12. My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service

For people who like: positive messages, kid friendly story telling, coming of age, magic and more.

If you need anime appropriate for all ages, these two films are for you. Both are from Hayao Miyazaki. Totoro follows two young sisters in their adventure of moving to a new house and meeting spirits in the neighborhood. Kiki's Delivery Service is about a girl training away from home to become a witch. The messages are strong and the girls make perfect role models for children of all ages. Adults will also love them. Both films are rated G. They may be difficult to find for rent. Both DVDs are available on Amazon.

Not convinced? Need a recommendation? Google your favorite genre followed by anime and see what you find. Break the association between animation and children in your mind. Anime is a medium, and a lovely one. You're sure to enjoy at least one of these tales.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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