20 Best Anime That Keeps You Hooked From The StartThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
While it’s true there are a lot of factors affecting whether an anime is good or not, but there’s one thing that we can all agree that every anime needs:
A good first impression.
After all, there’s nothing like an anime that doesn’t wait to show you it’s good — maybe even great.
And in a few rare cases, from the start you can even tell it’s a masterpiece.
So here’s some of the notable anime series that pull you in right from the start, and keep you there for the whole ride.
20. Hajime no Ippo
Here we have a sports anime that’s close to my heart (and I imagine everyone else’s).
In addition to being one of the longest-running manga/anime series on this list, Hajime no Ippo is no slouch when it comes to its earlier parts.
The story opens up with a common premise — a bullied boy who wants to get stronger.
But how Ippo was introduced to his love for boxing is done amazingly well.
And it all started when he met Takamura, who’s a completely different character from him in every way, right in the first episode.
Thanks to that fateful meeting, we had the delight of seeing a young boy find his purpose and true passion in life – and the rest is history.
19. Akame ga Kill!
This series isn’t your usual fantasy anime – and it shows right from the very beginning.
Sure, anyone wouldn’t think that at first since it’s led by your somewhat typical shounen MC.
But then the story eventually descends into a crescendo of darkness and death that not even Tatsumi’s innocence came out unscathed.
And all this happened in the first episode.
From then on, despite how dark and sad it got, the show never failed to keep most anime fans watching until the very last episode.
Because it’s simply that good.
18. Shokugeki no Soma
An anime based on cooking might not sound that appealing to some fans… but Shokugeki no Soma is another beast entirely.
After all, not only is it dedicated to cooking, but it’s also chock full of the legendary ingredient that almost every fan loves in their anime.
I’m talking about fanservice, of course.
And although cooking and fanservice go hand in hand, even in its first few episodes, the conflicts and stakes of the show are strong enough to keep you entertained.
There are very few premises in anime that are better than a main character striving for greatness.
Combine that with the legendary ingredient and you have yourself an even better show with a strong hook.
17. Hellsing Ultimate
Every anime on this list doesn’t wait to show how great they are.
Hellsing Ultimate is no exception, and it does so especially when it comes to its main character’s introduction.
As soon as Alucard awoke from his slumber, it became pretty clear who the main guy would be – and what the show was going to be about.
His emergence was accompanied by a haunting soundtrack, and a feeling of mixed dread and anticipation.
From the get-go, this made one thing pretty clear:
Alucard isn’t the kind of vampire that sparkles. And thank heavens he isn’t.
After all, Alucard being the ultimate badass vampire that he is made the show memorable for most of us.
16. Slam Dunk
There are a lot of anime that capture the essence of the “school life” genre pretty well.
But none does it better than the first few episodes of Slam Dunk.
In addition to a lot of colorful side characters, we were immediately introduced to the hot-headed troublemaker Hanamichi Sakuragi.
He’s our main character whose luck with women is about as low as his free throw percentage.
Starting from this gag-ish character background, he slowly developed as he experienced the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of high school basketball.
Props to you if you caught that reference.
Whether you’re a fan of basketball or not, Slam Dunk comes as a natural recommendation from me – especially if you like sports anime in general.
15. Sousei no Onmyouji
Remember all those series where anime couples take so damn long to make sense of their feelings and to finally get together?
Well the two lead characters in this show were destined to be together right from the start.
The classic “Boy-meets-girl” scenario from day one.
Which is refreshing, to say the least. And this isn’t even a purely romance-themed anime.
The action scenes also kicked up a storm right in the very first episode.
It is, after all, an anime about fighting demonic creatures.
Sure it took some time for the power couple to come to terms with their destiny. But it’s undeniable that their chemistry was already there when they first saw each other.
14. Yu Yu Hakusho
Very few anime are ballsy enough to start with their main character dying
(Except for every Isekai ever, of course).
But Yu Yu Hakusho did it anyway.
And considering what the series developed into, I can honestly say this unusual opening paid off more than enough.
One can even somewhat argue that it was ahead of its time.
Because from start to finish, it didn’t once let up with its intense action scenes and solid storytelling.
Yu Yu Hakusho, is undoubtedly one of the best classics/pre-2000s shows in all of anime.
As one of the best romance anime ever conceived, ToraDora! boasts certain elements that many romance-themed shows tried to replicate.
Right from the start, it shows us a very interesting premise:
Ryuji likes Taiga’s friend, and Taiga likes Ryuji’s friend.
They form an unlikely alliance to court their crushes.
But then they end up liking each other anyway.
And what highlighted this little arrangement was how the two main leads didn’t get along with each other at all in the first few episodes.
Of course, we all know where their adorable quarreling ended up eventually.
Right where they belong.
12. Sword Art Online
Say what you want about SAO, but you can’t deny that it had a hell of an opening.
It started with a reveal of a surprise death game with do-or-die stakes. There are only two ways out — clear the game and leave, or die in the game and, well, die.
Not to mention, it’s all set in a place that was once nothing but a harmless virtual fantasy world.
As the first few episodes progress, we eventually come to see just how much danger the players have been in all along.
Regardless of what the series eventually became, it remains as one of the best isekai anime that had one of (if not the best) opening episodes of all time.
11. Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari
On the topic of isekai anime, we have Tate no Yuusha Nariagari.
This opens up in a manner that could be considered as dark as SAO.
It starts with a betrayed MC that had their traits changed drastically.
This is something you don’t see every day in a shounen anime, let alone in the early days of isekai.
But then again, this does put into question just how someone who just got isekai’d should act and behave around the world they were summoned into.
Should you trust the princess, or not?
This anime and Redo of Healer have something to say about that.
10. The Promised Neverland
Spearheading the upper echelons of this ranking, we have The Promised Neverland.
A show that hooked viewers in the most unexpected way imaginable.
After all, who expected that an anime that was seemingly about adorable orphans at first, would start with a chilling discovery?
Nobody – except for those who read the tags or the manga.
While I belong to the latter group, I still felt shocked when I saw a certain someone’s dead body in the anime for the first time.
That’s how powerful that scene was.
And it’s a testament to just how great of an introduction that first episode was to the series.
9. Tokyo Ghoul
We’ve already gone through several anime that hooked us in by killing its MC or side characters, betrayals, and a death game.
But what about one that started with arguably the worst dumping of the main character by a waifu in anime history?
I’m talking about Kaneki being almost eaten by the woman he was crushing on, before literally being crushed half-to-death himself shortly after.
Tough start for an MC, right?
Too bad it gets worse for him later on.
Watch it if you want to know how much worse…
8. Boku no Hero Academia
It wouldn’t be too far off to claim that every good Shounen anime has completely mastered the art of hooking in viewers.
Boku no Hero Academia is one of the finest examples of the genre’s ability to appeal to large audiences, and that includes both beginner and veteran anime fans.
Because in the end, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?
This series offers exactly that – and even more.
After just seeing its first few episodes, we can already sympathize with Izuku, as we can see firsthand his struggles as a quirkless kid with an impossible dream.
It’s a relatable premise that sets up the hook and anticipation for later episodes perfectly.
7. Fullmetal Alchemist
This anime started things off with a very heavy tone, with high stakes that two young shounen characters couldn’t have possibly imagined.
Although young Ed and Al were struck with a great tragedy, we can see that they’re not willing to give up on themselves just yet.
From the very start, the two brothers’ ultimate goal was made crystal clear:
To fix what’s been done to their bodies by finding the Philosopher’s Stone.
And for an anime that starts off with the dark theme of sacrifice, it only shows how far the two are willing to go for their family.
It’s the perfect anime for Vin Diesel, now that I think about it.
I think we can all agree that we generally have a soft spot for troublemaker characters with a woefully sad backstory.
Naruto is one of these characters.
And we even see much of why he is what he is in the very first episode.
Naturally, this makes us sympathize with him even more.
Plus we can even see the elements that etched this show into the Mount Rushmore of Shounen anime very early on.
Namely: a unique premise, a stubborn and hot-blooded main character, remarkable side characters, and awesome action scenes.
All of these made Naruto such a revolutionary and game-changing title – even outside of its own genre.
5. Kono Subarashii ni Shukufuku wo!
As opposed to many titles on this list, KonoSuba completely defied its genre’s expected themes at the time.
Back when this anime first came out around 2016, all we had were your typical harem/slightly dark/cool & edgy Isekai MCs that flooded the market ever since SAO’s emergence.
But then KonoSuba came in with its trademark hilarity and endearing weirdness that the genre so desperately needed.
Bolstered by a strong cast of side characters, Kazuma and his show truly was a breath of fresh air from day one.
At this point, its overall popularity and following are a testament to how successful the show’s hilarious opening was overall.
4. Death Note
How much damage can an edgy genius high school kid with a magic notebook do?
Death Note, in its earliest episodes, shows us the simpler times of Yagami Light.
And even then it wasn’t so simple.
After watching the start of our protagonist’s/antagonist’s journey, we can already see glimpses of greatness scattered all over it.
Light’s monologues and how he reacted when he found out that the Death Note was legit alone was enough to tell the viewers that something is about to go down…
And what eventually went down was this series… in history as one of the greatest anime ever made, that is.
3. Code Geass
Drastic changes in scenery are often effective when grabbing our attention – especially in the earlier episodes of an anime.
Code Geass accomplished that by showing us Lelouch’s childhood, growth, and more importantly, his raison d’etre during its first few episodes.
Barring that, the curiosity as to how this happy-days-turned-war story would turn out is enough to keep us on the edge of our seats.
Oh, and add in the fact that we were immediately introduced to one of the smartest and most charismatic main characters in anime.
I’m talking about our boy Lelouch, of course.
From then on, you have to admit that it’s pretty much a guaranteed hook, line, and sinker.
2. One Punch Man
Speaking of fishing, no anime in the comedy genre has ever hooked more fans than this show.
And that’s an argument that I’d take on any day.
I have no shortage of praise when it comes to One Punch Man.
But what really stood out for me was its first episode’s near-perfection.
After all, it perfectly sums up what the anime is and what’s to come:
It’s about some guy who’s a hero for fun, and someone who will obviously get into all sorts of shenanigans moving forward.
And the way it subverts expectations as to what a superhero series is supposed to be is nothing short of genius.
But most of all, it’s this particular brand of parody comedy that makes OPM one of the best anime with the greatest hooks of all time.
1. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
Speaking of anime with the greatest hooks of all time… you’ll never see AoT out of the conversation.
But then again, how could it ever be forgotten here?
Wasn’t the show’s powerful and thrilling first episode one of the many things that drew us to this anime in the first place?
Regardless of how dark and unsettling it was, I’m certain that everyone would agree on just how strong of an impression AOT’s earlier episodes have left with us viewers.
And while I’m aware this anime could never satisfy everyone, it’s still a great opening to a series. Because it tells you exactly what the anime is going to be:
A dark yet irresistible show to watch.