My first real introduction to the colorful and somewhat absurd world of anime was through a rather bombastic and often cheesy show called ‘Fairy Tail’. I’ve been a fan ever since.
You may have heard the word before, courtesy of popular shows such as Pokémon. But for many outside of Japan, it can be an intimidating medium. With so many shows, it is often difficult to find a foothold. However, if you have a guiding hand, you just might find the right show to turn you into a total otaku (anime fan).
Isn’t Anime just cartoons?
In simple terms anime is a style of animation distinctive to Japan, which greatly differs from western animation. Stylistically, it employs distinct expressions to portray emotions in a deeper way than cartoons. Culturally, anime is open to all ages, and many explore more adult themes than its western counterpart. This means that no matter what type of story you like to see, you’ll be able to find the right anime for you.
… I’m not a fan of action and violence.
Don’t worry! Shonen, or pure action shows, are only one genre of Anime. You can easily find romance, historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, psychological thrillers, and many more stories that might be more your speed.
… I don’t feel comfortable reading subtitles.
That’s perfectly understandable. If subtitles are a deal-breaker, you can always check out the shows that have been dubbed into English — though you may want to do some research to find out which dubs are the best.
… do I need to read the manga (comics) to know what’s going on?
Not at all! Like any good adaptation, anime can stand on its own, and many are original works — so no need for extra reading!
Where do I start?
If you like: Romances — comedies or otherwise
Check out this classic: Ouran High School Host Club — when the only scholarship student at an elite private school ends up in debt to the school’s illustrious Host Club, she must disguise herself as a male student to work it off.
Or this new favorite: Ancient Magus Bride — a young girl is rescued from her troubled life by a powerful Magus and is introduced to a fantastic new world.
If you like: A good who-dun-it
Check out this classic: Detective Conan — when a brilliant detective is turned into a young boy by a mysterious poison, he resolves to track down the agents that poisoned him.
Or this new favorite: Bungou Stray Dogs — a detective agency employing people with special powers solve mysteries tangled with the local mafia and shadow organizations.
If you like: Space, the final frontier (and other science fiction)
Check out this classic: Cowboy Bebop — a bounty hunter with a tragic backstory, flying from planet to planet with his crew, picking up strays and putting away criminals — and eventually facing his past.
Or this new favorite: Steins;Gate — a self-proclaimed mad scientist travels through time with a cellphone and a microwave and now has to contend with forces that will do anything to destroy his creation.
If you like: Chills and Thrills
Check out this classic: Elfen Lied — a mutant creature with supernatural strength escapes a government research center, setting into motion a gory string of horrifying events.
Or this new favorite: Death Note — a brilliant young man finds a notebook dropped by a death god and learns that he can cause the death of any person on earth by writing their name on the pages, soon becoming one of Japan’s most wanted serial killers.
If you like: Ghosts, ghouls, and the unexplained
Check out this classic: Bleach — A 15-year-old with the power to see the undead has a chance meeting with a Shinigami (Grim Reaper) who recruits him to rid the world of evil spirits called Hollow.
Or this new favorite: Tokyo Ghoul — In a world where Tokyo City is haunted by flesh-eating ghouls, a quiet young man finds his fate is changed overnight.
These shows can be a great way to test the waters, and can open the gates to the expansive and immersive world of anime. Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think of these shows. And any anime veterans out there, feel free to share your own favorites!
Shivangi’s interests include video games, psychology, and everything in between. Certified night owl, official nerd, and purveyor of fun facts. Follow her on instagram (@stixer11) if you want to meet her dog.