As a seasoned anime watcher, whenever some new soul is looking to explore that vibrant world of (mostly) phenomenal storytelling and animation, I always tell them it’s imperative they choose the right show for their first one.
Luckily, they have me to help. But not everyone has that one hyper-obsessed, hyper-analytical friend in their lives, and to combat such a travesty, I’ve compiled a list of the five greatest anime for beginners to watch! The best part is that they’re all conveniently on Netflix.
Before we begin though, the only reason honourable mentions Death Note and Spy x Family aren’t on this list is because they’re already well known enough in this department, so no need to rehash.
We’re starting off with Blue Lock, a story about a world in which our protagonist, Yoichi Isagi, along with 299 other upcoming strikers, are called to join an insane football programme where challenges will keep mounting, eliminating the players and effectively blacklisting them from any career in football, until only one remains. The goal isn’t to find the best striker in the world, but to craft him, all at the simple price of abandoning their previous teams and learning to practice ego. What makes Ichigo special isn’t that he’s the last to accept the offer, but the first.
And, fundamentally, it’s just so, so much fun! There’s a wide range of characters with someone for everyone, and has solid writing too, only getting better as it goes on. For anybody who enjoys sports, phenomenal pacing, intense competition and character driven narratives, trust me, you won’t regret giving this a chance.
Kimetsu No Yaiba: Demon Slayer
Kimetsu No Yaiba is an anime extremely close to my heart. In fact, as someone studying writing, it’s my favourite show ever, period. It has some of the most phenomenal storytelling out there and truly is a masterpiece, so if you don’t watch it at least once in your life, it’s a tremendous loss. Our protagonist, Tanjiro Kamado, a kinder, softer and yet stronger type of hero, returns home one day to find his family slaughtered and his sister, Nezuko, turned into a demon, starting their journey to turn her back.
The premise may seem simple, but that just makes it the perfect contender for a first-time anime watch. Plus, it leaves a blank canvas for the show to masterfully craft itself. Despite the gorgeous animation and wonderful directing, the real strength of Demon Slayer lies in its characters. Almost each and every one is crafted with such depth, nuance and soul that they’re truly their own. It’s such a feat of storytelling that you can actually connect with their souls. How insane is that? Anyone who likes fantasy, adventure and good writing, it’s more than worth your time.
My Hero Academia
Now, while other experienced anime viewers may not agree with me, My Hero Academia is truly the most perfect first anime for beginners. It follows our quirkless protagonist Izuku MIdoriya, in a world where ‘quirks’ are powers the vast majority of the population have. Professional, government-paid pro-heros exist and Izuku wants to be one.
The story has a lot more depth, exploring how not all men are actually born equal, what exactly is the meaning of humanity, etc, plus amazing character writing. Spoiler — Izuku does end up getting a quirk and a mentor in the first episode, but his struggles are real and well written. With fast pacing, an easy to understand world and amazing storytelling (up until season three at least), this is perfect for people who enjoy superhero and action/adventure shows! Perfect for any beginner, really, but baby steps.
Blue Period centres around Yatora Yaguchi, a high school student who discovers his love and passion for art a little later than most, thus having to work much harder to make a career out of it. The grounded and realistic yet still awe inspiring and wondrous approach to storytelling and characters makes it an underrated gem. The main focus of the show is probably on the dichotomy between talent and hardwork, going into depth about the struggles of pursuing what you love, especially within a creative medium.
This is perfect for those who like slow-paced, thought provoking and character driven narratives. Plus, a little interest in creative or less conventional passions, and this anime’s for you.
My Happy Marriage
Of course, I had to dip into the shoujo genre too! My Happy Marriage follows Miyo Saimori, a child born of a loveless marriage into a family of psychics who’s treated as less than dirt by her father and stepmother after her mother’s passing. Worse, she didn’t inherit the family’s psychic abilities, so she’s deemed officially worthless. Abused for years and only being able to endure, she hopes her own arranged marriage will help her escape. However, with future husband Kyoka Kudou, things seem to be less simple.
Exploring Miyo’s trauma and inferiority complex, it delves into the trauma and complexity of her husband too, and despite everything they’ve been through, they may help each other heal. Much deeper and more intricate than it appears, while also exploring a supernatural historical world, it’s a must-watch for anyone who likes romance, historical fiction, deep and complex characters and themes and an exploration of trauma.