As a lifelong anime lover, I naturally want to get all of my friends and family hooked on the same shows that I obsess over. However, when I start describing these series, I sound like a crazy person. The problem doesn’t lie in the anime but with what I’m recommending. I have a never-ending list of anime that I absolutely adore but half of those are not very suitable for someone who's never experienced the genre.
I found that recommending a series based on what they normally like to watch (like how Netflix recommends titles) is the best way to go. Also, I try to pick something with a really good English dubbing. I love my subs as much as anyone but most anime newbies will lose interest by reading the subtitles and listening to angry Japanese men screaming at the screen. Here’s a list of some excellent anime that will turn your friends into lifelong fans.
For Action lovers: 'Soul Eater'
In this action packed anime, the Death Mister Weapon Academy (DWMA) is a school that trains young people to hunt evil beings known as Kishin. Meister Maka and her scythe partner Soul strive to collect 99 evil souls and one witch soul in order to turn Soul into a Death Scythe, the ultimate weapon. However, a powerful and evil threat grows from within the DWMA, can Maka and Soul stop it or will their souls be devoured?
“Soul Eater” is an anime that I would highly recommend to anyone because it has everything that is good in an anime. It has an easy to follow storyline, beautiful artwork, humor, and the action scenes are just incredible. What’s great about “Soul Eater” is that there’s always something happening even in the filler episodes; it’s definitely a series that will keep everyone on the edge of their seats. I’ve loaned it to both anime virgins and long time anime fans and they’ve binged watched the entire 50 episode series in two days. This anime will hook an anime virgin but they may be upset with you once they learn there’s not a season three.
For Action and Drama lovers: 'Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion'
After the overwhelmingly powerful country of Britannia conquers Japan, it completely strips Japan of its pride, culture, and even its name - calling it Area 11. Angry at the tyranny of the Britannia Empire, a young Britannian named Lelouch starts a rebellion. Using his power known as Geass, which makes anyone follow his commands, he strives for a world where his younger sister can live happily. However, will his agenda and hatred for Britannia lead to his downfall?
This is one of my personal favorite series because it is so well written and very gripping. "Code Geass" has a complex storyline but it’s fairly easy to follow if you start from the beginning. I would recommend this to an anime virgin who likes science fiction dramas similar to "Pacific Rim" or futuristic dystopias like "The Giver". I wouldn’t recommend this anime to someone who doesn’t like complex plots or to someone who mostly watches TV to veg out because the plot requires a bit of engagement. However, this is one extremely addictive show and every episode makes you immediately want to watch the next one.
For Comedy and Romance lovers: ‘Ouran High School Host Club’
Only those from rich families are lucky enough to attend the prestigious Ouran Academy but commoner Haruhi Fujioka was even more lucky to obtain a scholarship to attend this distinguished school. Her luck runs out when she accidentally breaks an expensive vase. Now she must pretend to be a boy and is forced to work as a host for Ouran Host Club, a group of beautiful boys dedicated to entertaining young ladies with way too much time. Can she handle the craziness of the host club or will her secret be discovered before she can pay off her debt?
“Ouran Host Club” is an awesome pick for romantic comedy lovers since it makes fun of other romantic comedies. The characters are just as zany as they are beautiful. I always manage to crack up laughing after the silliest lines even after I’ve watched an episode for fifth time. This is a very fluffy and cute anime but I know a lot of men who enjoy watching it, too. Its a perfect date night anime or a good recommendation to someone who doesn’t enjoy flashy Sci Fi shows but likes something more down to earth.
For Horror and Action lovers: 'Attack on Titan'
For years humans have lived peacefully behind the towering walls that surround their entire civilization, protected from the man-eating giants called Titans. That peace abruptly ends when a Colossal Titan suddenly appears and destroys one of the walls, letting more of the terrifying creatures inside. In order to survive, humanity must fight back.
Another one of my personal favorite series, “Attack on Titan” is just amazing. It has an incredibly fast-paced storyline and the characters are very relatable. The best part about this series is the gorgeous artwork, it truly is a beautiful and terrifying anime to watch. Even the gory scenes are pretty to look at. Action and horror fans will love this series but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a weak stomach or who is under the age of 16 since it’s a M rated title and it does have a lot of gore. Despite that it is an amazing and wild ride that will hook you instantly.
For Sports Lovers: ‘Yowamushi Pedal’
Sports anime is a very broad and underestimated genre. Most think that sports anime are boring but they’re actually very interesting and fun to watch. They all have wonderful story-lines and great character development; they’re an awesome pick for those who aren’t sure if they’re interested in science fiction and fantasy. However, a series can still be boring if the viewer isn’t very interested in the sport the anime is about.
The best way to recommend a sports anime is to make a recommendation based on sports that others are interested in. For example, I really love cycling and I have a few friends that enjoy it too so I picked bicycling anime, “Yowamushi Pedal”. In this very different sports drama, anime nerd Sakamichi Onoda enters high school hoping to join the anime club, only to realize that it was shut down. However, his cycling skill catches the eye of his school’s bike racing team who try to convince him to join. Will this nerdy boy actually join an athletic team?
I really like this series a lot because there is competition in the story but it’s not focused on winning but the passion the characters have for cycling along with their relationships with each other. Plus, watching the characters race along the road makes me want to get on my bike and go for a ride myself.
For Mystery Lovers: 'Case Closed'
High school student Jimmy Kudo is a modern day Sherlock Holmes. He solves mysteries the police can’t handle using the power of observation. However, he gets in over his head when he attempts to stop a shady transaction and is forced to swallow a poison that turns him into a child! Now he must solve mysteries while trying to find the men responsible - but can he do that when everyone thinks he’s a 1st grader?
"Case Closed" is a classic detective series, every episode has a new murder mystery where all the clues are presented but it’s up to the viewer to put them together. This series is a great beginner anime because you can start anywhere in the series and still be able to keep up with what’s happening. It’s also a very long running series with 700 episodes and counting. "Case Closed" is very engaging and very easy to follow along, which makes its the perfect start for new anime fans who enjoy murder mysteries like "C.S.I" or "Psych".
For Romance and Drama lovers: ‘Kimi ni Todoke: From Me To You’
Sawako Kuronuma is a nice and quiet girl who has a hard time fitting in. Maybe it’s her personality or maybe it’s the fact that she’s similar to a character in a Japanese horror movie? When this shy girl befriends the most popular boy in school, will she finally be able to fit in or will she just make enemies?
“Kimi ni Todoke” is an adorable romance anime that has gorgeous artwork. This slice of life anime is so beautifully drawn and the characters look more like real people than some of the other titles on this list. “Kimi ni Todoke” is down to earth and has a very moving plot about an out of place girl who finds love. Plus, the chemistry between Sawako and her love interest Kazehaya is perfect! I’ll recommend this anime to any romance lover and to those who enjoy everyday-life stories. The only downside to this title is that there is no English dubbing - but that shouldn’t scare newbies away. I also found this anime to be very calming, a perfect end of the summer show or something to wind down with after a hard day of work.
For Fantasy and Romance lovers: 'Inuyasha'
Modern day school girl, Kagome, never believed in legends and myths until she became part of one. After falling down an old well, she finds herself in Feudal Japan which is full of demons and other mythical creatures. While trying to fight a demons, she accidentally breaks the Shikon Jewel, a magical object that grants power to anyone who possesses just a shard of it! Joining the half-demon, Inuyasha, Kagome must travel through ancient Japan and fix the Jewel before evil claims it.
"Inuyasha" is an anime classic for a very good reason; it has a little bit of everything: comedy, romance, action, fantasy, and more. The plot line is very well written and you’ll fall in love with all of the characters. The monsters Kagome and Inuyasha encounter are frightening and yet beautifully drawn, anyone with a love for fantastical creatures is sure to enjoy it. It’s also a wonderful choice for those who adore classic romances. Though Kagome and Inuyasha seem like an odd pair, you can see the chemistry between them right away and eagerly wait with anticipation for their love to grow.
For Steampunk Fans: ‘Last Exile’
This visually striking anime takes places on the planet Prester where futuristic flying machines soar across the skies. Flyboy Claus Valca and his navigator Lavie are fearless racers determined to become the first sky couriers to soar across the Grand Stream. However, when they encounter a mysterious girl named Alvis, they are thrust into a neverending war. Will they solve the mystery behind Alvis and finally bring peace to Prester or will they become another casualty?
What you’ll first notice about “Last Exile” is how beautiful the scenes are: the machines and characters are incredibly realistic. Anime virgins will know right away that this series is completely different from cartoons. The complex machinery and pseudo-Victorian fashion will also excite any steampunk fan. This is also a great in-between anime for someone who enjoys science fiction or slice of life stories because it has a good mix of both. The story is very moving and you really form a strong bond with the characters. Overall, this is an amazing anime to start with.
For Drama/Action Fans: 'Full Metal Alchemist'
All the Elric brothers wanted was to see their late mother’s smile. That innocent wish quickly turns into nightmare when they try and resurrect her using a power called Alchemy. The older brother, Edward, loses his right arm and left leg while his brother Al loses his whole body! Now the brothers travel the country seeking a way to restore what they have lost.
“Full Metal” is also a great anime classic and caters to so many audiences, it’s hard not to fall in love at first sight. What I like best about this series is the gripping storyline and how the characters take you through that story. It’s so well done that there are points where I’ve even sympathized slightly with the villains. Also, Edward is a hero for all the short people out there! It’s a wonderful anime for beginners because the plot will reel you in and the characters will definitely rub off on you.