Anime has grown vastly in the United States and all over the world in the last 3 decades. And while anime has seemingly died down and gotten mainstream appeal, there are plenty of people who are wondering where to begin. For this particular countdown, I am gonna give you what I believe are the best starter anime for people who want to get into anime. Now, this picks are my personal choices and choices from others I have asked around the internet. Yet, this list will be focusing on the main series you can use to lure someone (friends, lovers, family members, etc) into the clutches of otakudom. All you have to do is press the list to your left to see what made the cut.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my list of Top 10 Starter Anime. This is what you use to bring more people in. There were a few honorary mentions I wanted to say: Fairy Tail, Magic Knight Rayearth, Vampire Hunter D, Genshiken and more but this 10 is a good start where you can branch off into other things. Well, that is it for now. I hope you enjoyed this countdown. They’ll be more from me soon. Ja ne!
# 10: Ouran High School Host Club Pic
Coming in at number 10, Ouran High School Host Club.There is a certain charm to it. It is a reverse Harem anime (where there are a lot of guys after the same girl) in which Haruhi gets mistaken for a boy and gets “inducted” into the Ouran High School Host Club to pay back her breaking an expensive vase. Things get crazy as Haruhi is subjected to the club and starts to fit in. Yet, as love develops, other girls come to “save” Haruhi which takes the series off to an even funnier than you imagine. This is a show that any most anyone, male or female, can enjoy.
# 9: Gundam Wing
In # 9 is Gundam Wing.Out of all the many, many Gundam series, why THIS series? Getting into anything UC will lead to all sorts of epic but very, very deep backstories and more. Yet, this series actually has something for … everyone. Five gorgeous, young boys who are trained fighter pilots who have separate missions that all, for the most part, fall in line with each other’s agendas. There are strong female characters that play crucial roles in the story. There are rivalries that get viewers invested. And it makes very bold and true statements about war.
Sure. There is a lot of flip flopping between characters as to what side they are on but that is a testament to the story and development. There is murder, intrigue, love, betrayal and, most importantly, LOTS & LOTS OF MECHA ACTION. And honestly, for a 49 episode anime with a 3 OVA sequel … this series has a lot in so little. So, yes! There is something for EVERYONE on this show. So, before diving into the UC or seeing any of the other Gundam Franchises or just mecha anime in general, test this gem out.
#8: Azumanga Daioh
Coming in at # 8 is Azumanga Daioh. Slice of life and comedy anime blended together to make a perfect union. Seriously, this show is hilarious. Azumanga Daioh tells the story of a group of girls in one class and the adventures of their daily lives. Doesn’t sound nuts right? Oh …. You haven’t seen this show. This show gives us high school hijinx as the girls … and several of the teachers, are absolutely insane or near that point. There is the young, child genius, Chiyo-chan; who is actually the most mature member of this cast. From driving, to camping to swimming … this show takes average situation and bumps us the hilarity by 9000. Its characters are entertaining. The art is great. And this show is a great way to bring people in to the slice of life and comedy genre of anime and put a smile on your face. And it’s only 26 episodes.
Jumping in at # 7 is Gravitation. Do you like music? Do you like drama? Do you like comedy? And do you like a little man on man action or unrequited love from a woman to a man or from a man to a man? Yep. This show has all of that. I know. I am sure many of you are surprised but this is definitely a great drama series. It tells the story of a band known as Bad Luck as they are working to climb to the top. Their lead singer, Souichi, ends up falling in love with a … rude author named Yuki. After a rough critique of Souichi’s songwriting, the singer becomes obsessed with Yuki. And, oddly enough, Yuki starts having feelings for him. And their romance actually ends up affecting both their careers. The supporting characters all have roles to play and the growing romance is a great driving force. It is a 13 episode rollercoaster ride of music, love, drama and a sense of growth that is a great way to bring in new anime fans for something that want something a bit different.
#6: Yu Yu Hakusho
Coming in at # 6 is the shonen classic, Yu Yu Hakusho. Why is this on the list? Cause Shonen is one of, if not the, most dominant genre of anime. Yet, some of you are wondering, why not Dragonball Z or One Piece or one of the other millions of Shonen. Two reasons. First, this anime graces us with one of the greatest English dubs in history. The dub, by Funimation, is superb and even Yu Yu Hakusho creator, Yoshihiro Togashi, stated that he prefers the English dub over the Japanese dub. Second, the characters really do grab you and don’t let go. I am not talking about just the heroes. I am talking the supporting characters and even some of the villains really grab viewers. Yu Yu Hakusho follows the story of a teen named Yusuke Uremeshi, who becomes the Spirit Detective to defend the planet alongside his friends: Kuwabara, a human with spiritual power that can use it to create energy swords; Kurama, the reincarnated demon fox thief, now in a human body; Hiei, a fire spirit with a bad attitude and more. The shows arcs are, at most, a season long. At 114 episodes, this series does look a bit long but, overall, the stories and characters make up for the length.
# 5: Heartcatch Precure
Coming in at # 5 is Heartcatch Precure. Time for a magical girl show. But … what is this? This is not Sailor Moon. Why not Sailor Moon? I can explain with four words: The DIC dub suuuuuuuuuuccccccccccckkkkkkkkksss. I still LOVE Sailor Moon but this is a countdown of best gateway and I honestly think that Heartcatch Precure does a better job. The designs may seem weird but Heartcatch Precure follows the adventures of 4 magical girls, the Precures, who battle against a group called the Desert Apostles; who want to turn the entire planet into a loveless desert. The great things about this show is that the main characters all gain development throughout the show; the stakes continuously rise and that the heroes are very multi-faceted. This gives a lot of positive reinforcement to girls growing up while having plenty of action and adventure for guys to like. And it is only 49 episodes.
# 4: Cardfight!! Vanguard
Riding on # 4 is Cardfight Vanguard. I know. I know. People who know me are like “Really, really? You just couldn’t wait to put this in here?” And there are readers that don’t know me going like “WHAT?!” Out of all the card game/somekind of game anime that I could put on this list, why Cardfight Vanguard? Well, there are several reasons. First off, the show constantly builds on itself. Every episode and arc builds into the next arc while still being able to stand alone. There is very little downtime or filler. And all filler episodes are actually used for character development for supporting cast and/or main characters. Second, there is a wide selection of monsters, knights, mecha and more that give homages to many classic (and current) anime and tokusatsu that the card game has something for you; and even if the card game doesn’t, the cast of characters in the show is nearly as diverse enough for viewers to pick out someone or unit to relate to and/or enjoy. And finally, the character growth and usage in the series is among the best in anime. Characters that you see throughout the series, over 90% of them will reappear at some point. Nearly every character on the show provides development for the mains and even get development of their own. The show is rich in telling backstory to understand characters which really make this show very accessible and fun to watch. The show is about Aichi Sendou and his rise as a cardfighter but then it also is about Misaki’s rise through her painful past; and about Kai also making a fresh start from his past while also becoming stronger; and about Kamui, who has fallen for Aichi’s sister, Emi; and more and more.
# 3: Slayers Next
Giving a Dragon Slave to # 3 is Slayers Next. Okay. Okay. I know I am hearing it now. Why Slayers Next and not Slayers or some other fun, fantasy anime. Quite simple. Slayers Next is a near perfect starter anime. There are multiple arcs that get dealt with in few episodes. The characters range from fun to intense to down right vile; but still retain entertaining factors throughout. The stories flow very well and the filler is some of the funniest I have ever seen in ANYTHING. Slayers deals with a group of travelers; a bad ass sorcerous named Lina Inverse with her swordsman bodyguard, Gourry; a princess of a white mage city named Amelia; a part rock, part golem, part human being called Zelgadis and whoever they pick up on their travels. This particular season deals with the group being manipulated so Lina can use a forbidden spell. Other than that, I am not saying another word. The show has great action, a lot of laughs, interesting characters and some of the best twists I have ever seen in anime.
#2: Death Note
And at # 2 is the thrill ride known as Death Note. If you want intense, serious anime but with a twist, then look no further. Death Note is the story of how a bored Shinigami, Ryuk, leaves his Death Note (a book that can cause someone to die if their name is written on it) on the ground; which is then picked up by bored human, Light Yagami. And what does Light Yagami, son of a police officer, do with said notebook? Why, go on a massive killing spree in order to bring his version of “order” into the world of course. Yep. Light develops a god complex and decides to rid the world of criminals; becoming an infamous killer known as Kira. Yet, as international agencies are baffled by the deaths of all these criminals, they bring in a special agent to track down Kira named L. And then the chase begins.
The chase plays out with glorious, overdramatic action alongside murder and intrigue that becomes a huge chess game. For all you Criminal Minds, Law & Order or CSI fans, this anime will do it for you. Sure. There is a super natural twist. But other than that, the show keeps rooted in reality and is a heart stopping race to see who will catch who first. And the English dub for this is superbly done by Ocean Group.
#1: Cowboy Bebop
And … at # 1 … to no one’s surprise, I’m sure … is COWBOY BEBOP!! Honestly, if you didn’t think that this would be on THIS countdown, then you are REALLY new to anime. Cowboy Bebop has something for nearly every person. It can be serious. It can be funny. It has style and action and one of the best soundtracks of any television series ever. No wonder this is one of the most replayed anime … EVER. Join Spike, Faye, Jett, Edward and Eistein as they travel space in this space spaghetti western with actions, adventure and intrigue. You can show this show to anyone and it is nearly guaranteed they will get hooked. I really can’t say much more because so much has already been said but yeah … Cowboy Bebop.