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Wondering Where to Start With Anime? We Can Help!

We asked our esteemed Cheezburger anime fans what anime someone who had never seen one before should watch, and they came up with some solid ideas. If you're in the market for an anime to try, check out the most popular suggestions below, and get watching! Most of these anime can be found on Hulu and Netflix, so you've got no reason not to try.

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  • 1

    Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

    Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was by far the most recommended among our users.

    StoneyD_crew thinks "the plot is great, with good action, and lovable main characters. I'm sure it's in at least the top 20 animes, for every anime lover out there. The English dub is pretty good too, making it great for those starting out, as the sub titles can be a little difficult to get used to. It also doesn't have the characters based in a Japanese setting, so it requires no previous knowledge [of] Japanese culture references."

    Before you run out and watch it, beware: there are two versions of the series. Fullmetal Alchemist came first, but doesn't follow the manga as closely as FMA: Brotherhood. Realkeenan says "Brotherhood was created for fans of the manga who were upset with how the original anime ended up. It rushes through some important information at the beginning, so watching some of the original's intro is helpful for context." But no matter which version you choose, it's hard to go wrong. IRFreeze puts it best: "Most people will probably tell you to watch Brotherhood because it follows the original manga's story. However whichever one you chose (or if you chose both) you are sure to feel invested in the story."

  • 2

    Angel Beats

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    According to link5650, "It is funny, has some action, and has an emotional story, helping you be able to take anime seriously when it wants you too," and Skyodelik says it "will show you what feels are." Warspite can't reccomend anything else for a first timer, because "it covers a variety of genres, isn't too long, and has a really solid storyline."

  • 3

    Studio Ghibli Films

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    Maybe you're not ready to jump into a show yet. Studio Ghibli makes what are undoubtedly the most famous anime films, to the point that they're often considered the Japanese equivalent of Disney. As Dr.Sid points, out, they're movies rather than series', so you "don't have to watch it for weeks to know how it ends."

    CyberKyd's got strong feelings on the matter, and suggests these five films to get you started:

    1. Howl's Moving Castle - Adapation of a book by a Westerner, and IMO, better than the book in many ways. The movie is a nearly flawless execution of the fairy tale formula, and its magic philosophy is wonderful when applied as a general life lesson. I'm as a whole not giving sub vs dub arguments here because both have their merits (even though I hate Japanese voices with a passion and there are many more mainstream talented English VAs that are capable of actual acting unlike your typical hammily-overacting Japanese VA *cough*) but I'd strongly recommend the English dub of Howl, as it's got Billy Crystal as Calcifer, Jean Simmons as Sophie, and Christian Bale as Howl, and they fit their roles very well. It even has Crispin Freeman in a very brief role at the end! (Itachi's VA, if you watched dubbed Naruto)

    2. Princess Mononoke - This movie gets a huge reputation as an environmentalist movie, but I see it as a more mature movie than that, an epic tale (except for the main character in the first third of the movie, but w/e) of an old and primal world of mythology clashing with a new world of industry and civilization, where each are struggling to live in a war that is unavoidable without one world dying away completely. It's an amazing idea with amazing art and amazing characterization.

    3. Poro Rosso – The story of a former WWI flying ace trying to deal with life having been turned into a pig. It's really a very simple movie, but the atmosphere is beautiful, the loving care put into the scenery is moving, and the movie's ability to switch back and forth between relaxed and fast-paced is leads to some very nicely-paced conversations and dogfights.

    4. Spirited Away – While not one of my favorites, this movie is undeniably a classic. Think of it as a sort of Japanese Alice in Wonderland steeped in Japanese mythology. I'll at least admit the visuals can be very nice, as in nearly every Ghibli film.

    5. Laputa: The Castle in the Sky – I only recently developed an appreciation for this movie, but it's honestly very good. If I were to compare it to anything else, It'd be Tin Tin mixed with Final Fantasy VI. Some of the best Ghibli art direction, in my opinion, can be found in this movie, though the tone is simultaneously a bit too juvenile and preachy for my tastes.
    Other popular Ghibli films include My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo, both of which have versions released by Disney if you're not ready to get your feet wet with subtitles.

  • 4

    Mecha Anime

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    Are you into robots? Why not try a mecha anime? Skyfire77 thinks you should watch "Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team. The animation is good for the time and the story is relatively tight and fast paced. Later on go watch the original MSG if you like this one, or try Gundam Wing for a different story."

    Rinaka says "If you want over the top action with giant robots, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. If you want something a more serious mech show, Code Geass." IRFreeze concurs: "Gurren Lagann: This show is very over the top in its action. It doesn't require you to think about anything while watching." "Code Geass: A polar opposite to Gurren Lagann (despite both having mechs), this show focuses more on strategy and cunning rather than just blowing stuff up. If you love watching a plan come together, this show is for you. "

  • 5

    Death Note

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    Death Note "gives you a slow walk into the world of anime, involving demons and the such," according to thunderstruck001. IRFreeze says its "a game of cat and mouse, but you never really know who has the upper hand." It's kind of a crime drama, but with elements of the supernatural and a serious sugar addiction.

  • 6

    The Gateways and the Classics

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    If you're really stumped on where to start, turn to the gateway shows: Bleach, One Piece, and Dragon Ball Z. Many of us grew up watching them on tv, and if you get into one of these, there are tons of episodes. Not willing to get involved with a super long series? There's a newer, faster paced version of DBZ called Dragon Ball Kai, but it's got mixed reviews from our experts. Kulgah says, "don't bother with Dragon Ball Kai, it's garbage in my opinion," but Tarlfgar thinks its amazing. Ultimately, it's a shorter version of the series, which is precisely why Tarlfgar recommends it.

    Want to go even deeper? Check out the "classics":

    Trigun, Hellsing, and Cowboy Bebop are older, but they're classic for a reason. xXakotx wants you to know that Trigun "is just an anime that has to be experienced. It is pure perfection up until the second to last episode," Hellsing is "just balls to the wall great," and Cowboy Bebop is a must see. Gragnack and MoDude117 also both suggest Cowboy Bebop, so why not give it a shot?



    Iluvsweets says: "My advice is to treat anime like you would other shows and choose based on the sort of stories you like. You'll like it more if you approach anime as a medium of storytelling rather than a genre.... Don't get discouraged if you don't like the first ones you try because there are all sorts of anime out there and your sure to like some of it! :)"

    There are plenty of other great recommendations here if none of these tickle your fancy.
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