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Here Are the 10 Best Anime for Beginners To Watch

Yuri K, Victor, and Yuri P skating in 'Yuri!!! on Ice'

The world of mainstream pop-culture has changed a lot in the past 10 years, and one of its most stark changes is in bringing anime to the forefront. Many people who never even went through an embarrassing middle-school anime phase are now trying to “get into” it, only to find that the vast expanse of anime out there is … daunting, to say the least.

As someone who both went through that phase and grew out of it, only to try and get back into it a few years ago (keyword being “try”), I understand the struggle completely. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list for all you newcomers based on a few varying factors: uncomplicated storytelling, palatable subject matter, and bingeability.

Updated 11/25/22

Yuri!!! on Ice

Drunken dance in Yuri!!! on Ice.

When Yuri!!! On Ice was first released, it was all anyone would talk about. The animation was gorgeous, the story was captivating and down-to-earth, and of course, the romance between Yuri and Viktor captured the hearts of viewers.

But the incredible thing about this anime is that it managed to grab the attention of even mainstream figure skating stars, such as the lovely Johnny Weir:

I never thought I would take the time to watch an anime series, despite appreciating the art form. “Yuri on Ice” feels like home to me, and it really inspires me and makes me so happy that there is such a wonderful worldwide response to the show.

Weir, The Geekiary

Samurai Champloo

Characters from Samurai Champloo
(FUNimation Entertainment)

Before I even watched this show, I was aware of its soundtrack, composed by the legendary Nujabes (as well as his equally talented contemporaries: Fat Jon, Tsutchie, and Force of Nature). Hip-hop in anime was a very new thing at the time, and Samurai Champloo really just made it work.

This anime defies most stereotypical conventions, meaning that there’s no weird, awkward fan-service, or overtly “anime” moments. It’s stylish and mature, yet knows how to have fun with itself, and ultimately has the panache to bring anyone back to those late night Toonami days.

Michiko to Hatchin

Artwork for the anime 'Michiko to Hatchin'
(Fuji Television Network)

Although this show was produced by the same team that made Champloo and its famous cousin, Cowboy Bebop (which is also worth watching, yet might be a bit tedious for beginners), Michiko to Hatchin has always been an underrated gem. And that’s truly a shame, because I believe this is one of the best animes out there.

Not only does it feature BIPOC protagonists, which is rare for anime, but the story reads like a good novel: a young girl is rescued by a badass biker chick who takes her around Brazil to find her estranged father. It’s a heartwarming, painfully human tale of girlhood and womanhood, with a killer soundtrack to boot.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Image of Curtis and Armstrong shaking hands in Fullmetal Alchemist

I mean, if the musclemen above aren’t enough to convince you that this show is dope, I don’t know what will.

But seriously, FMA: Brotherhood is a classic for a reason. It’s got everything a good show is made of, from the effortlessly lovable characters to the strange, captivating plot. I often get burnt out watching too much TV, but this was one show I happily binged in just two days.

There’s just something about this show that’s kept it from losing its luster. It was truly ahead of its time and could be recommended to just about anyone who’s even remotely interested in anime.

Death Note

Death note promo image
(Viz Media)

Now, if FMA: Brotherhood could be recommended to the anime-curious, then Death Note could be recommended to anyone under the sun. It doesn’t even feel like an anime sometimes, because it does away completely with typical anime tropes. Death Note’s style and tone are unique to itself, lending to an experience that’s incredibly hard to get out of your system.

Best of all, it’s the kind of show you could rewatch and have continually evolving opinions about. Upon first viewing, you might consider Light Yagami to be a tragic victim in the grand scheme of it all. But by the second viewing, you’ll probably wish he’d get curb-stomped by Misa—at least, that’s the camp I’m in after my third viewing.

My Hero Academia

The cover of My Hero Academia Team Up Missions 2

When I decided to finally get back into anime during quarantine, this was the show I picked up after hearing so many good things about it, and boy, am I glad for the experience. I haven’t felt this kind of joy watching an anime in a very long time.

My Hero Academia is just so full of joy, action, and earnestness. From the very first episode, I felt myself grinning and feeling for Izuku Midoriya (not least of all because there’s something fairly relatable about his struggle to achieve his dreams). Plus, if you watch this show, you’ll still be able to catch up with the manga, which has yet to be completed.

Princess Jellyfish

The cast of 'Princess Jellyfish'
(FUNimation Entertainment)

It’s difficult to describe just how much I love this show. Few anime (or TV shows in general) portray outcast women in such a tender, loving way, and although there is a materialistic element to Princess Jellyfish’s story, it’s done in a way that feels right.

When Jellyfish-obsessed artist Tsukimi meets a gorgeous crossdresser, she finds she can’t shake him off, and he’s fascinated by Tsukimi and her house full of misfits and oddballs. The bonds formed by all these characters feel so real and sweet, you’ll find yourself cradling your weird niche with newfound appreciation by the time you’re done with this show.

Silver Spoon

Yuugo Hachiken eats a slice of pizza while other boys stare at him in 'Silver Spoon'
(Fuji Television Network)

Written by the same mangaka who created FMA, Silver Spoon is an oddball of an anime because it takes the school-life structure and flips it on its head. Gone are the pervy miniskirt shots and over-dramatization of teen life—this is a story about a bunch of kids who just wanna farm.

When Yuugo Hachiken burns himself out in a highly competitive Japanese school, he transfers to an agricultural boarding school, where he learns how to work with various livestock and cook his own delicious foods. Best of all, we get to see a very atypical anime story, wherein the protagonist succeeds by not following the status quo and finds happiness with a way of life that many ignore.

… and it helps that the food scenes are out of this world:



The Forgers outside enjoying their day in 'SPYxFAMILY'

Every once in a while, a cool anime comes out that makes even my jaded ass curious, and SPYxFAMILY absolutely hits the mark. I’m a bit leery of the “found family” trope, but in this case, oh god it works. This show is so cute. It’s almost deliriously cute.

At its core, it feels so silly and incongruous: a wartime spy in Fake Europe has to adopt a child and marry up in order to complete a mission of diplomacy, but the child ends up being a little esper, and the wife ends up being an assassin who moonlights as a secretary. It shouldn’t work. But it does. It really, really does.

Shaman King

Asakura Yoh in the 2001 anime 'Shaman King'
(FUNimation Entertainment)

I really need to make it clear that the new Shaman King is a bunch of bull-honky. While the original, listed here, was pretty problematic in ways that early-2000s Japan really leaned into, it at least had a sense of style and flow that felt cohesive. The new Shaman King fixes the original’s problems (i.e. the racism and the lack of certain manga plot-beats), but it otherwise just feels like a sugar high.

I recently rewatched the first episode of the Shaman King dub and it was like a rush of blood to the head, in the best way possible. This is such a goofy yet captivating show. It was one of my very first anime as a kid, and it’ll remain one of the only ones I truly liked.

(featured image: MAPPA)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer, dog mom, and casual insomniac. Her prior experiences with media have taken her down many different roads, from local history podcasts to music coverage & production. Niche interests include folk music, elves/wizards, and why horses are cool actually.