20 Best Anime for Beginners
List of Best Anime Series for Beginners to Watch First
Are you becoming interested in anime and wondering what is a good starter anime for you?
Anime has increased in popularity worldwide lately as more anime series and movies with multilingual subtitles and dubs are distributed to all over the world through lots of video streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, etc.
Many international people watch anime for just enjoying the entertainment contents , learning Japanese and other various reasons.
It is a little difficult to find out what to watch for those who have not watched an anime or liked a few family anime including Studio Ghibli, Pokemon, Doraemon and Sailor Moon when they are children.
Here, I picked out some of the very best anime for beginners, which are popular among both Japanese and international anime fans. Check the selected starter anime list!
If you developed a fascination for Japan via anime and are planning a trip, begin with this Ultimate Japan Guide: 30 Best Things to Do in Japan.
1. One Punch Man
One Punch Man (ワンパンマン), one of the most popular anime especially among foreign anime fans, is perfect for anime newcomers. The action and comedy anime is based on the manga which started to be published from 2009 and serialized with over 20 volumes.
The main character superhero named Saitama who never looks cool but can beat any enemy with a single punch. However strong the monsters and villains are, he defeats them with only one punch. What is funny is that he obtains the power by just training hard.
Not only Saitama but other cool and unique characters including his disciple Genos and the expert martial artist Bang are featured on One Punch Man. Enjoy the mixture of Japanese comedy with the American superhero’s essence.
Naruto (ナルト), the famous anime with theme of Ninja, is sometimes looked on as one of the best anime of all time worldwide and best for beginners. Naruto was originally made as a manga that were published from 1999 and completed in 2014 with the 72nd volume.
The anime series also came to the end in 2017, which consists of the first half Naruto (NARUTO -ナルト-) and the second half Naruto: Shippuden (NARUTO -ナルト- 疾風伝).
The story is really simple since the main character Naruto grows up with various Ninja including his fellows, teachers and even opposites. There are powerful battle scenes with the Ninja unique techniques.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (鋼の錬金術師 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST), one of the greatest titles in the 2000s, is perfect for anime beginners. The dark-fantasy anime, originally serialized as a manga series on Monthly Shonen Gangan between 2001 and 2010, was made into two anime adaptions: Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The latter one is recommended to you, since the 64 episodes are wholly based on the manga story.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is set in Europe in the 19th century focusing on the two alchemists: Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse Elric. The talented alchemist brothers try to bring their died mother alive with the alchemy and that ends up in failure. They begin a journey in search of the Philosopher’s Stone to have lost parts of their bodies back, fighting the homunculi with the name of the seven deadly sins.
4. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人), categorized as action and dark-fantasy, is an ideal anime to start with. It has been welcomed by anime fans all over the world since the first season with 25 main episodes were released in 2013. The fourth season of the anime series, which is the final part, launched in the end of 2020.
It also surprised anime fans with the eccentric theme of titans attacking humans and the shocking drawings. The dark story is filled with mystery, and you will be craving to know why on earth the Titans attack people and where they come from.
Attack on Titan are such popular worldwide partly because the unique characters including Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman and the other Survey Corps members who fight against the strange gigantic creatures.
5. Cowboy Bebop
As one of the most popular anime that are loved by foreign people, you cannot miss Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ). The action sci-fi anime with just one season (26 episodes) is easy to watch until the end.
The setting of the anime is the space in 2071, where the bounty hunters including Spike Spiegel and Jet Black combat against criminals. It consists of a variety of genres such as action, suspense, comedy, cyberpunk, etc. and entertaining background musics including jazz, blues, rock and so on.
6. Dragon Ball
For the legendary action anime in Japan Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール), many anime fans agree with the one you should start to watch anime with. It was famous as a Weekly Shonen Jump manga written by Akira Toriyama at first, but the anime adaption has got popular since the late 1980s.
The worldly famous anime is divided into some parts with different titles: Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Super, and so on. The 2nd part Dragon Ball Z is the most popular all over the world, where the story starts when the main character Goku has grown up. Goku and many unique characters fight powerful battles using their techniques like Kamehameha.
Pokémon, which is known as Pocket Monster (ポケットモンスター) in Japan, is now one of the most popular anime among both kids and adults around the world. It has been loved in Japan since the first video game of Pokémon was released in 1996, and the anime adaption started to be aired in 1997.
The young boy Satoshi travels all over the world with the adorable Pikachu and other his Pokémons. You can enjoy not only the intense battle scenes but also drama between humans and Pokemon.
8. Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン), which is abbreviated to SAO, is one of the symbols of the modern Japanese anime. The science fiction and adventure anime is based on the popular light novel written by Reki Kawahara.
There are three major seasons so far in the Sword Art Online anime series, and what you should do first is watching the first part with the 14 episodes.
The setting is 2022 when the advanced VR online game called Sword Art Online is invented, and all 10,000 players including the main character Kirito log in the game. However, the players notice it is impossible to log out and get back to the real world. If a player dies in the MMORPG world, he/she also dies in the real world.
9. One Piece
There is no reason why anime fans don’t recommend for you to watch One Piece (ワンピース) as a starter except its too long story, which is a positive thing for the fans who hope it will not come to the end forever.
One Piece, based on the manga series that finally reached the 100th volume in September, 2021, is looked on as best of the best anime and manga all over the world of all time by many anime fans. This is the story of pirates, which unfolds with the adventures of the main character Monkey D. Luffy and his crews. He sails around globe in search of the ultimate treasure called “One Piece”, battling with powerful opposites.
There are Devil Fruits in the world of One Piece, which grant a superpower to those who eat one while the fruits unable them to swim. In addition to the fight scenes, it represents human drama such as strong bonds with friends and family, their negative pasts and social issues in the real world.
10. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Romantic comedy is one of the most popular anime trends not only in Japan but worldwide, and Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (かぐや様は告らせたい〜天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦〜) is a perfect romantic-comedy anime for beginners. There are three seasons containing 37 episodes airing from 2019 to 2022, the following part Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – The First Kiss That Never Ends was first released in the end of 2022.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War presents the peaceful and funny story of the student council of Shuchiin Academy. Its president Miyuki Shirogane and vice president Kaguya Shinomiya like each other but are too proud to tell their love. They fight various mind games attempting to make each other confess his/her love.
11. Violet Evergarden
As one of the modern masterpieces made by Kyoto Animation, Violet Evergarden (ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン) has been watched by a large number of anime lovers. The moving drama anime is known as a popular anime series that many beginners has started watching anime with. It was released with 13 episodes on Netflix in 2018, followed by two anime movies in 2019 and 2020.
Set in a fictional world inspired by modern Europe, it centers on a young girl named Violet Evergarden, who used to be known as a weapon in the last great war. The story begins when she starts working as an Auto Memory Doll, a kind of ghostwriter for those who cannot write. The emotionless girl is recovering her human feelings through the job.
12. Spy x Family
A action, comedy manga and anime series Spy x Family has been popular on Shonen Jump+ since its serialization started in 2019 and its anime adaptation aired in 2022. The anime series and its iconic cute character Anya have attracted not only anime fans but also those are not especially interested in the pop culture lately. It has been announced that the second season will come in 2023.
The spy-themed anime depicts both serious and funny episodes, set in a fictional country Ostania, which conflicts with its neighbor Westalis. It centers on Loid Forger, a spy from Westalis. To curb war and keep the peace, he forms a fake family with the skilled assassin wife Yor and the psychic girl Anna.
13. No Game No Life
No Game No Life (ノーゲーム・ノーライフ) is a good starter anime series that consists of 12 episodes broadcasted in 2014, categorized as fantasy and science fiction. It is adapted from the original light novel series written by Yuu Kamiya that has been published since 2012. The anime series and the first anime movie No Game No Life: Zero in 2017 were made by Madhouse.
No Game No Life centers on genius gamer siblings: a 18-year-old boy Sora and his 11-year-old sister-in-law named Shiro. The stay-at-home gamers are suddenly sent to another world and fight agains other species through various bizarre games with their highest gaming skills as a representative of human beings.
Bleach is one of the most famous anime series all over the globe that is adapted from Weekly Shonen Jump’s manga series as well as Naruto and One Piece. Its original manga, which was serialized between 2001 and 2016, was made into the first anime series in 2004. After 366 episodes concluded in 2012, the final part started airing as Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War from 2022.
Categorized as action and adventure, Bleach revolves around a high school protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki. With the power of the Soul Reapers, the Samurai-themed hero fights against the evil Hollows and other Soul Reapers. There are cool Samurai characters and their powerful techniques in Bleach.
15. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo (サムライチャンプルー) is one of the most recommended anime series to the anime beginners overseas. The Samurai-themed adevnture anime is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe who is known as an anime director of the popular title Cowboy Bebop. It was broadcased in 2004 consisting of 26 episodes. It was also adapted into two volumes of a manga series in the same year.
The setting of Samurai Champloo is Japan in the Edo period (1603-1868) with traditional Japanese culture mixed with the modern words and fashion. It tells the story of a young girl Fuu traveling with two Samurai characters named Mugen and Jin in search of the samurai who smells of a sunflower.
16. Demon Slayer: Kimestu no Yaiba
Demon Slayer: Kimestu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) is one of the most popular manga and anime in the recent years. The original manga was serialized on Weekly Shonen Jump from 2016, and it came to an end in 2020. In 2019, the first season of the anime adaption was aired with 26 episodes, and the sequel Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (劇場版 鬼滅の刃 無限列車編) came on the screen in October, 2020. The second season of the anime series with a subhead Entertainment District Arc aired in the end of 2021, followed by the third season in the spring of 2023.
The setting is the fictional Japan in the early 20th century where humans and demons exist in the same society. The action adventure anime centers on demon slayers who look like Samurai including the protagonist Tanjiro Kamado. It depicts moving dramas of both the humans and demons that are originally born as a human being as well as exciting battle scenes.
17. Yuri On Ice
Yuri On Ice (ユーリ!!! on ICE), made as an anime at the beginning and aired with 12 episodes in 2016, is one of the few anime that don’t have the original manga. The sports-themed anime focuses on figure slating.
Yuri On Ice has attracted not only anime fans but also people who like watching figure skating competitions. The figure skating performances in the anime are choreographed by a professional Japanese figure skating choreographer.
The story follows the main character Yuri Katsuki who is a 23 years old figure skater and his rival Yuri Plisetsky who is a 15 years old promising Russian skater. Human dramas are represented in the whole story while they aim to win the the Figure Skating Grand Prix. The anime movie adaption titled Yuri!!! on Ice the Movie: Ice Adolescence (ユーリ!!! on ICE 劇場版:ICE ADOLESCENCE) was scheduled to be released in 2019 but the release season has been postponed.
Erased (僕だけがいない街) was originally made as manga with 9 volumes between 2012 and 2016 and adapted into an anime with 12 episodes in 2016. It is recommended for those who like novels and comic books with the theme of mystery.
The setting is the fictional Tokyo and Hokkaido in Japan. The main character is Satoru Fujinuma, who is a 29-year-old less successful manga artist. He also has an extraordinary ability known as “Revival” which makes him travel back and forth in time in disregard of his wishes. The story follows him trying to prevent incidents around him from happing with the Revival.
19. My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia (僕のヒーローアカデミア) is a well-known Japanese superhero anime, which is adapted from one of the most popular ongoing manga published on Weekly Shonen Jump from 2014.
The anime is inspired by American comics like Marvel, mixed with the classic Japanese manga plot at the same time. There are a variety of heroes who have supernatural abilities called Quirks to fight against Villains.
My Hero Academia centers on a young boy named Izuku Midoriya, who does not have any Quirks at the first place. His growing-up story with other heroes is depicted in the anime.
Parasyte (寄生獣) is recommended for those who want to watch an eccentric or bizarre anime. It is famous for the original renowned manga published from 1988 to 1995 and its anime adaption, known as Parasyte -the maxim- (寄生獣 セイの格率), was aired with 24 episodes in 2014-2015.
In the sci-fi thriller anime, worm-like creatures Parasites come to the earth and parasitize human brains. The people parasitized by the creatures go berserk and have power to kill others. The protagonist Shinichi Izumi, who is a 17-year-old high school student, is attacked by a Parasite but prevents it from living in his head. Instead, the parasite invades his right hand. The anime represents how emotional human beings are by contrast with how rational Parasites are.
On top of those anime recommended for beginners, there are a large number of anime to watch. It is famous that everyone can enjoy viewing the Studio Ghibli movies and the anime directed by Makoto Shinkai including Your Name and Weathering with You.
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If you subscribe Netflix, this anime list is also recommended to you!
Great anime make you want to watch any further, and check those lists if you wonder what to watch next. For more info about anime and Japanese pop cultures, check these articles below, too!