The three best anime shows to try if you’re new to the genre
Curious? Here’s how to dip your toes into the anime.
If you are like us, anime has been in your peripheral vision for years. Do you remember the popularity of Sailor moon, but you are not sure if you have watched it yet. For a little while all your friends could talk about was Avatar, but you never really got on board. But as streaming continues to expand its borders, the media becomes more and more international and the slight stigma surrounding watching anime is fading (sorry, anime fans, we were wrong, okay? ), you might consider dipping your toes into the weird, wild, and wonderful world of anime. There’s a lot-a lot– shows to choose from, but we won’t throw you in the deep end. Here are our top three picks.
Erased is first on this list for a simple reason: it’s short. One season, 12 episodes. This is not all that interests us, of course we can and will sing his praises. But if you’re intimidated by the commitment to start a show with multiple seasons (honestly, we feel you), Erased can serve as an aperitif.
Erased is a mystery in the guise of a thriller. Satoru Fujinuma, a guy in his twenties, has a subtle little superpower: he can time travel, but just enough to make things right. He runs into a little girl who drops her ice cream cone and is automatically pushed back to grab it before it falls to the ground. All right, until the unthinkable happens. Satoru’s mother is murdered, and Satoru suddenly finds himself in her 10-year-old body, “sent back in time 18 years old to prevent the events that led to his mother’s death. “It all starts” with a series of kidnappings in his 5th year, “and Saturo, now a child, needs to figure out what happened there 18. Thematically, the show can get pretty dark, but since most of our main characters are children, it’s also funny and sweet.
Courtesy of Aniplex USA (YouTube)
Discover this tight, warm and captivating thriller. It’s a suspenseful, good-hearted story that might encourage you to explore some of the other stories the anime has to offer. Watch it on Netflix subtitled, which means the dub is in Japanese and you follow the English subtitles, or on Hulu, dubbed, which means that the dubbing is dubbed by English actors. Since it is animated, there is no difference with the movements of the mouth, etc. Subbed is a favorite with purists, but voice acting can also be a great way to experience anime, especially if you are just starting out!
Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
There are some debate as to whether Avatar: The Last Airbender (hereafter called Avatar, but not to be confused with that of M. Night Shyamalan painful adaptation, The last air Master, or that of James Cameron Avatar) is a real “anime”, since it is produced by a western studio. For our needs, we will call Avatar anime-lite. It’s a great introduction to the types of story arcs, characters, and cultural elements you might find in cartoons, but featuring English speaking actors (no subtitled vs. dubbed debate here!), A easy access (watch it on Netflix) and cultural cachet.
Avatar is a fantastic escape into a fantasy world based on the four elements, with fleshy characters, upbeat humor, moving arcs, insightful politics and, honestly, just a lot of cool stuff (mainly, the power to control said elements, “folding”, and Appa, the protagonist’s … flying bison, who is just as cute as he looks). It’s a children’s show, but especially if you like fantasy (and have watched Game Of Thrones, you do), it still has a lot of appeal to older people.
Full-Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010)
If you thought Avatar had an intriguing world and politics, wait until you get your hands on Full-Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (hereafter, thereafter FMA: Fraternity, because anime names are long, okay?). In a world of state-sponsored alchemy and an ever-looming government, two young brothers, Ed and Al, attempt to use alchemy to bring their mother back to life. In the (taboo) process, Ed loses an arm and a leg, and Al loses his whole body. Ed, equipped with prostheses, and Al, whose soul is now housed in armor, seek to reclaim their entire bodies thanks to the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. In doing so, they uncover a government conspiracy that dates back far and wide.
Courtesy of All Anime (YouTube)
FMA: Fraternity is consistently listed as one of the best anime, and for good reason. It’s cheeky and clever, suspenseful and exciting, but despite all of its in-depth and intriguing world-building, FMA: Fraternity shines because of, well, fraternity in his heart. Watch it subtitled on Netflix or doubled on Hulu and HBO Max.
A warning, I repeat, a warning: do NOT confuse this with Alchemist made entirely of metal. FMA: Fraternity is the second almost 1: 1 adaptation of the FMA manga series, and is widely regarded as the best.
We hope this list is a helpful getting started guide! Which animated series are you curious to try? Let us know in the comments.