Anime. When you hear the term, you either get super hyped up and unleash your inner weeb, or you cringe at the many stereotypes surrounding the storytelling medium.
Not too long ago, many held the latter sentiment. For most of its history in the West, anime has been a niche medium. After all, the big, overexaggerated eyes, high-pitched voices and strange stories could be off-putting for a mainstream Western audience.
Luckily, the past 20 years have been more kind to the medium. Anime is now more popular than ever among teens and young adults. It’s all thanks to outlets such as the programming block Toonami, which exposed many 2000s kids to popular anime like “Dragon Ball Z,” “Naruto” and “One Piece.”
Furthermore, with the rise of streaming, it’s easier than ever to access anime of all kinds. Netflix has built up a respectable anime library with a commitment to promoting and producing new anime titles that will hopefully reach conventional audiences.
All these developments and more have helped anime become more mainstream. With the help of services like Crunchyroll and Funimation to reel viewers in, hit movies like “Your Name” and TV shows like “Dragon Ball Super” have become anime centerpieces.
What makes anime appealing is its ability to tell distinct stories that are otherwise seen as too far-fetched or mind-boggling to be accepted in the West. Only in anime will you see a story about middle school students being trained to murder their alien teacher.
Concepts as strange as students defending themselves from aliens that would never make it past the pitch meeting, let alone onto prime time television, are welcomed in anime. Even though these stories are a little weird, they’re remarkable tales enjoyed by many audiences.
Now that anime has become more widely accepted, more people might be interested in checking out the once-niche medium. But with so many different titles available for viewers to choose from, it can be hard for any newcomers to find the right show for them.
So, here are my top six recommendations for newcomers wanting to get into anime.
1. “Death Note”
Ask any anime fan — “Death Note” is always one of the most recommended animes for newcomers. And for good reason. This thriller series follows teenager Light Yagami after he stumbles upon what seems like an ordinary notebook called the Death Note.
The notebook has the strange supernatural power of killing people whose names are written in its pages. With this newfound power, Light embarks on a crusade to rid the world of evil. Light’s quest sparks an intense game of cat-and-mouse as he is then hunted down by the detective known as “L.”
“Erased” follows the life of Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old man with the unusual ability to time travel a few moments into the past, typically to stop major accidents from occurring. All is well until Satoru’s mother is brutally murdered and he is sent back in time to when he was 12-years-old. There, he must solve a series of kidnappings to stop his mother’s death before it’s too late.
3. “Lovely Complex”
This romantic comedy follows high schooler Risa Koizumi on her quest to finally get a boyfriend. The only problem is, she’s the tallest girl in school. To make matters worse, Risa’s stuck sitting next to her longtime rival, Otani Atsushi, who happens to be the shortest boy in school. Together, they navigate the ins and outs of teenage romance as their bickering rivalry slowly turns into something resembling that elusive thing called love.
“Toradora!” is a slice-of-life anime, and it follows high schooler Ryuuji Takasu, a sweet and caring young man that is unfortunately looked at as anything but sweet, due to his intimidating appearance. Ryuuji’s life gets turned upside down when he meets the hotheaded Taiga Aisaka. Together, they team up to help each other be more desirable for their respective crushes, and they may find that there’s something more within them all along.
5. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”
This anime premiered just last year and has already become one of the most popular animes ever. After his family is attacked by demons, Tanjiro Kamado and his sister, Nezuko, are the only survivors. However, after Nezuko gets turned into a demon, Tanjiro embarks on a quest to find a cure and slay the demon that killed his family. The series has loveable characters, beautiful animation and breathtaking action.
6. “Attack on Titan”
Lastly, “Attack on Titan” follows Eren Yeager as his world is threatened by horrifying kaiju-like creatures named Titans that only eat humans. Stuck behind the safety of a giant wall, Eren and his friends undergo rigorous training to fight back against the menacing Titans. The show features phenomenal characters, incredible fight sequences and some of the best storytelling ever put to screen. “Attack On Titan” has fantastic twists and turns across its first three seasons. With the recent airing of the fourth and final season of the show, now would be the perfect time to start watching this action-packed anime.
The world of anime is vast. Give these shows a shot, and you just might find yourself rocking out to Japanese songs and cosplaying as your favorite characters.