The world of anime is an incredible place for viewers to enjoy. However, the inexperienced may find the waters difficult and confusing to traverse. For those seeking an opening to the crazy yet fun world, here’s a selection of anime that can serve as a gateway to the medium.
A Toe in the Water
Anime is known for being visually expressive and rather different from western culture. It can be a rather strange experience for a new viewer. A great way to start off one’s anime adventure would be to experience the best an anime’s animation budget can offer: Studio Ghibli films. They are considered the height of animation, the majority have earned very strong reviews, one of which earning the Academy Award for best-animated feature (Spirited Away). Any are a good pick, so research some that stand out to you and give it a try.
For those who may be a tad intimidated by the abstract animation, then I recommend something more grounded yet story engaging.
Scenario: you awaken in front of the Washington Monument, no memory of who you are, no clothing, no ID, nothing. You have a pistol in one hand and a strange cell phone with access to about $82 million. What do you do?
That is the question Akira Takizama faces as he tries to piece together his past, solve the mystery of his new phone, and the other players in a competition he’s been roped into. Eden of the East is a psychological mystery that feels like a very American premise that really draws the viewer in. The mystery is incredibly well paced as well as a strong tension builder. This is a great choice for those who are not accustomed to the typical anime plot.
Once one is more adventurous, there is a plethora of stranger, yet engaging anime for one to try.
The Shallow End
Considered the show that introduced anime to the west, Cowboy Bebop is a modern noir space western following the lives of a group of outcast bounty hunters traversing space.
Where to begin with describing this show? It has an incredible classic jazz score that matches perfectly with the animation, episodic stories that deal with thought provoking themes, and characters written, animated, and voiced so well that you’ll forget they’re fictional. Not only a great example of an anime, but an incredible example of how to tell a story.
Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood are two science fantasy series that tell similar stories with some differences in events. The fan community is split down the middle as to which show is superior, so either is a strong option.
In a world where alchemy dominates the world, Edward and Alphonse Elric are two young brothers who attempt to bring their mother back from the dead. Their efforts fail at the cost of Edward’s arm and leg, as well as Alphonse’s body, with his soul being bound to a suit of armor. With the guilt of their actions, the two walk a path of redemption to reclaim what they lost. Considered one of the best anime of all time, this show has a bit of everything for everyone.
In a not too distant future, emotionless androids have become common use across the world as household servants. Rikuo Sakisaka is a high school student who discovers his family’s android, Sammy, has been acting independently, going to a café called Time of Eve. Going to the café himself, he discovers a location where no one can determine whether one is an android or human.
With the rise of artificial intelligence, Time of Eve raises questions of whether artificial life can be considered life. Factoring in this interesting theme with the unique stories of each patron of the café, this enjoyable slice of life show raises thought provoking questions, as we further understand what it means to be human.
The Deep End
Anime can be crazy. If one is adventurous enough, the best way to experience that craziness is to just cannonball into the biggest vat of bizarreness there is, that way everything will be less strange in comparison. And no anime better encapsulates this then FLCL, also known as Fooly Cooly.
After being hit in the head by a guitar swinging, Vespa driving woman, Naota Nandaba’s seemingly boring town becomes the opposite as robots start spouting out of his head. It is strange, weird, awkward, confusing, and you won’t know what the heck is going on half the time…but it is an incredible ride. The animation is drawn to match the killer rock music utilizing an ever changing style, the comedy is well written featuring a nice mix of one liners and visual gags, and the six episode story when pieced together demonstrates the confusion of growing up in this coming of age story.
Now you may not enjoy every one of these options, that’s fine. There are plenty of different genres under the anime umbrella for one to experience. Give one a try. It may feel like a strange journey, but I promise that it is worth the ride.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just some guy on the Internet.
So, what do you all think? Any anime that you feel would be a good choice for beginners? Leave a comment below, and let’s get this conversation rolling. Until next time, this is Xander, signing off.