Top 30 Best Starter Anime For Beginners: The Ultimate List

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Approaching the anime medium for the first time can be challenging.

Sure it’s colorful, looks beautiful, and the sheer variety is enticing – but it can also be like a bowl of extra-spicy curry for someone who’s used to eating burgers and chips for every meal. In other words, it can be too much for the uninitiated.

Still, we all have to start somewhere. And some anime are definitely more enticing and digestible for newcomers.

After over ten years of enjoying anime, I’ve become a bit of an expert in the subject. Let me be your guide to ranking the best anime for newbies that are worth watching.

 

30. Pokémon

Pokémon anime screenshot

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 1000+ Eps.
Studio: Oriental Light and Magic

Few anime series are as well-known as Pokémon.

This adaptation of the hyper-famous RPG video game series has been running since 1997, and it doesn’t look like it’ll stop anytime soon.

It follows Ash Ketchum and his partner Pikachu as they travel around the Pokémon world, making friends and battling the strongest trainers on their quest to catch ’em all.

You can start with the 1997 classic if you’re in for the long haul. But I recommend Pokémon Journeys, which features very polished animation and includes Pokémon from recent generations.

 

29. Clannad

Clannad anime

Genre: Romance, Slice-of-Life, Tragedy
Length: 47 Eps.
Studio: Kyoto Animation

If you’re into live-action drama shows like Grey’s Anatomy and My Mister, you can’t miss Clannad – one of the most tragic and emotional anime ever made.

It follows Tomoya Okazaki’s life from adolescence to adulthood, as he goes from being labeled a delinquent to finding a group of tight friends and – eventually – love.

Of course, life is more than triumph and happiness.

Clannad is a rollercoaster of emotions, and it’ll show you the depths of despair – especially its second season, Clannad: After Story.

 

28. Ouran Highschool Host Club

Ouran Highschool Host Club anime

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Reverse Harem
Length: 26 Eps.
Studio: Bones

We’ve all seen a couple of harem shows where a single male character is chased by tons of hot girls – but have you ever seen the opposite?

Ouran Highschool Host Club follows Haruhi – a working-class student in a fancy elite school.

After accidentally breaking a priceless vase, she’s forced to pretend she’s a boy and join the school’s Host Club – a group of dreamy male students who help female students relax and enjoy themselves.

Rather than the sticky kind of romance Shoujo anime is known for, OHHC offers viewers a light-hearted comedy anyone can enjoy.

 

27. Free!

Free! anime screenshot

Genre: Sports
Length: 37 Eps.
Studio: Kyoto Animation + Animation Do

Where anime tends to cater to an all-male audience with plenty of “wardrobe malfunctions”, the anime Free! flips the script by following a group of dreamy, well-trained swimmers.

The cast mostly focuses on the aloof Haruka, the dependable Makoto, and the cheerful Nagisa.

But it’s not all about shapely triceps and chiseled abs.

At its heart, Free! is a show about rivalries and friendships – as well as following your dreams with everything you’ve got.

 

26. One Piece

One Piece anime

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Battle Shounen
Length: 950+ Eps.
Studio: Toei Animation

A series boasting a thousand episodes can be daunting.

But One Piece manages to make every single episode exciting, and – most importantly – fun to watch.

This anime follows Monkey D. Luffy – a pirate who obtains a stretchy rubber-like body after eating a magical “Devil Fruit”.

This pure-hearted pirate will use these newfound powers to fight his way to One Piece, a massive hidden treasure waiting somewhere beneath the waves.

It’s one of the biggest anime series ever made. If you might be into shounen like Naruto and Bleach, this is a must-watch.

 

25. Redline

Redline screenshot

Genre: Racing, Action, Sci-Fi
Length: 102 min.
Studio: Madhouse

While this list focuses on top-tier anime TV series for beginners, there are a couple of anime films that are too good to leave out.

Set in a distant future, Redline follows JP – a bad-ass racer with a sweet pompadour and the bravado to match it.

With his customized Trans-Am 20000 WR, he’ll compete in a death race known as the Redline. As the galaxy’s biggest racing event, it draws in the most skilled and daring drivers from all around, and they’ll put it all on the line to win the race.

 

24. Naruto / Naruto Shippuden

Naruto / Naruto Shippuden anime

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Battle Shounen
Length: 220 + 500 Eps.
Studio: Pierrot

Everyone knows Naruto. This orange-clad ninja’s exploits are aired worldwide, and his popularity has turned him into the face of anime for many.

As a baby, Naruto had a terribly powerful beast known as the Nine-Tail Fox sealed inside him to protect the village of Konoha. This made him a pariah, as everyone was afraid of this dark power within.

Naruto’s story is that of an underdog exceeding everyone’s expectations and rising from the lowest of the low to one of the most powerful ninjas in the world.

It’s inspiring, and it’s also full of jaw-dropping battles.

 

23. Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online anime preview screen

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure
Length: 96 Eps.
Studio: A-1 Pictures

Playing an immersive hyper-realistic MMORPG in VR sounds like every geek’s dream.

But what if you couldn’t log out?

Protagonist Kirito and another 50,000 players find themselves in just that situation after logging into Sword Art Online for the first time. To leave, they’ll have to explore 100 levels, defeat ruthless bosses, and eventually clear the game.

This would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the fact that you’ll die in real-life if your HP drops to zero.

SAO has gorgeous character design, colorful characters, and it presents a fantasy world that anyone would like to visit. Very beginner-friendly too.

 

22. One Punch Man

One Punch Man anime screenshot

Genre: Super-hero Fantasy, Comedy, Action
Length: 24 Eps.
Studio: Mad House + J.C. Staff

You thought Superman was overpowered? Well think again.

One Punch Man revolves around Saitama – a super-hero that can defeat any enemy with a single punch, which has made him profoundly bored.

While Saitama himself isn’t the most interesting individual, the characters surrounding the undefeated hero are the soul of One Punch Man.

 

21. Kill la Kill

Kill la Kill anime

Genre: Action, Comedy, Magical Girl
Length: 24 Eps.
Studio: Trigger

After her father is murdered by a mysterious figure, young Ryuko Matoi chances upon a talking high school uniform that grants her insane combat prowess.

With her newfound powers and oddly revealing “magical girl” outfit, Ryuko will challenge the powerful Honnouji Academy and its leader – Kiryuin Satsuki – to find the truth about her father’s death.

The show has a colorful cast, epic music arrangements, and a lot of personality.

Keep in mind it also has a ton of fanservice, in case that’s something you’re not crazy about (or in case it’s something you might be into).

 

20. Toradora!

Toradora! anime screenshot

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice-of-Life
Length: 25 Eps.
Studio: J.C. Staff

If action, adventure, and mystery are not your thing – perhaps a light-hearted romantic comedy is the way to go.

After finding out they’re in love with each other’s best friends, classmates Ryuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka make a pact to help each other with their romantic pursuits.

Each episode is fun and easy to digest.

And while romance is at the core of the show, it doesn’t overdo it with the gooey lovey-dovey stuff. Instead it’s a tale of friendship and how people grow to understand each other.

 

19. Mushishi

Mushishi white-haired guy screenshot

Genre: Adventure, Slice-of-Life, Supernatural
Length: 46 Eps.
Studio: Artland

Mushishi is set in an alternate late 18th century Japan where magical creatures known as “Mushi” inhabit the world along with plants, animals, and humans.

Protagonist Ginko is a Mushi specialist wandering the land studying these powerful ancient lifeforms and helping humans with problems caused by them.

Each episode feels like a self-contained fairy tale.

Both Ginko’s calm personality and the show’s subdued aesthetic make it a relaxing show to watch while winding down from a hard day.

 

18. Your Name

Your Name anime screenshot

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama
Length: 107 min.
Studio: CoMix Wave Films

Writer and director Makoto Shinkai grace us with a love story between two teenagers from different periods who one day wake up in each other’s bodies.

Your Name is the third highest-grossing anime film of all time – and it’s not by chance.

The animation is gorgeous and fluid, the backgrounds are lovely, and overall, it’s the peak of anime cinematography.

 

17. Erased

Erased anime screenshot

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Length: 12 Eps.
Studio: A-1 Pictures

Not everyone enjoys anime about battles or romance.

But most people will find it hard to take their eyes off a mystery thriller as good as Erased.

This dark story follows Satoru, a 27-year-old who can automatically rewind time whenever a tragedy is about to occur, allowing him to stop it. One day, he wakes up 18 years in the past and must use his present-day knowledge to save an old friend from being murdered.

Intense heart-wrenching moments are a dime a dozen in Erased.

 

16. My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro kids anime screenshot

Genre: Fantasy
Length: 86 min.
Studio: Ghibli

Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki is hailed as one of our times’ creative geniuses.

And 1998’s My Neighbor Totoro is one of his most iconic films.

This beautiful children’s film follows two girls in post-war rural Japan as they interact with the forest spirits around their village – including the titular Totoro, who became Studio Ghibli’s mascot.

It’s a great introduction to anime and Miyazaki’s work for viewers of all ages.

 

15. Spirited Away

Spirited Away anime

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Coming-of-Age
Length: 125 min.
Studio: Ghibli

Another well-loved film by Hayao Miyazaki is Spirited Away, a children’s film that tackles complex themes such as consumerism, environmentalism, and more – making it appealing for adults as well.

After accidentally wandering into a magic world, Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs, and the young girl is conscripted into Yubaba’s Bath House’s cleaning staff.

The bathhouse serves all kinds of creatures from Japanese folklore, which may pique your interest if you’re into foreign cultures.

The film’s incredible quality made it the highest-grossing anime film ever made, until Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train took the title in 2020.

 

14. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion anime

Genre: Mecha, Military, Thriller
Length: 50 Eps.
Studio: Sunrise

Giant robot anime used to be one of the most popular genres around.

But older series like Mazinger Z and Robotech are a far cry from what Code Geass has to offer.

It follows Lelouch vi Brittania – an exiled prince who uses his tactical genius and a mind-controlling power known as a “Geass” to lead a paramilitary force against the Holy Britannian Empire

This mature show features political intrigue, moral dilemmas, and heart-wrenching moments punctuated by exciting mecha battles and epic struggles where Lelouch’s intellect is put to the test.

 

13. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop characters screenshot

Genre: Neo-noir, Space Western, Sci-Fi
Length: 26 Eps.
Studio: Sunrise

Suppose you’re looking for a series that’ll appeal to an older audience with relatable adult characters, rather than the usual teenagers and high school students.

In that case, Cowboy Bebop is the way to go.

This sci-fi classic takes place in a dark and gritty future where humanity has colonized the galaxy – but everywhere you go, you’ll find the same old struggles such as poverty, crime, and violence.

Each character has their own set of complex personal issues and moral dilemmas that ultimately make them who they are. They’re all explored in-depth, tackling some intense themes and giving you a lot to chew on after just a couple of episodes.

 

12. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure anime

Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Adventure
Length: 152 Eps.
Studio: David Production

Based on Hirohiko Araki’s famous manga, each season of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure follows a different member of the Joestar family in their struggle for survival against all kinds of powerful opponents.

While the first and second seasons focus on vampires and ancient god-like beings known as the Pillar Men, all subsequent seasons feature “stands” – the physical manifestation of a person’s fighting spirit.

The show shines for its creative character designs, bad-ass characters, and bizarre battles.

Watch it if you want to finally get all those Jojo memes.

 

11. Parasyte -The Maxim-

Parasyte -The Maxim- screenshot

Genre: Horror Thriller, Body Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 24 Eps.
Studio: Madhouse

Parasyte is an exciting sci-fi story about a parasitic lifeform that infects humans, taking over their brains and twisting their bodies into wretched forms made to kill and consume others.

After his right hand is infected by one of these parasites, high school student Shinichi makes a pact of survival with his newfound companion.

The show explores complex problems such as the meaning of life, the need to consume others to live, and what makes someone “human”.

Definitely more on the philosophical side here.

 

10. Death Note

Death Note anime - dark screenshot

Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural
Length: 37 Eps.
Studio: Madhouse

Death Note is a compelling thriller following highschool student Light Yagami after stumbling upon a “Death Note” dropped by a bored grim reaper by the name of Ryuk.

This notebook from hell has the power to kill anyone whose name is written on its pages, and Light decides to use this power to cleanse the world.

As “Kira”, he’ll reform society through vigilante justice, unless the gifted but eccentric detective known as “L” stops him first.

 

9. Nichijou

Nichijou anime

Genre: Surreal Comedy, Slice-of-Life
Length: 26 Eps.
Studio: Kyoto Animation

Nichijou can be summarized pretty accurately as a show about cute girls doing funny things.

There’s even an entire anime genre like this, and Nichijou might be the best entryway for beginners.

This comedy follows a group of middle school girls’ everyday lives, making their mundane experiences hilarious through off-beat humor and surreal skits.

It’s light-hearted, easy to approach, and the animation quality is surprisingly good.

 

8. Baccano!

Baccano! anime screenshot

Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Supernatural
Length: 16 Eps.
Studio: Brain’s Base

Some of the more jaded folks out there just can’t see anime as different from children’s cartoons.

If you’re dealing with such a case, Baccano! might be the way to go.

Set during the Roaring Twenties in New York, the show explores the city’s criminal underbelly and features gangster staples like hijacking trains and robbing banks.

The twist? Some of these gangsters have drunk an elixir of immortality, and they can only be killed if another immortal “devours” them.

If the fantasy aspect of Baccano! is something you’d rather avoid, 91 Days is a more grounded gangster story set during the prohibition, and you should definitely check it out.

 

7. Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden anime

Genre: Coming-of-Age
Length: 13 Eps.
Studio: Kyoto Animation

If you’re looking for something you can start watching in the next couple of minutes with minimal effort, Violet Evergarden is the way to go.

This Netflix Original is available to anyone with a Netflix subscription in almost every region in the world.

Protagonist Violet Evergarden is a super-powerful cyborg turned into a child soldier early in her life. After the war is over, she becomes an “Auto Memory Doll” whose job is to ghostwrite letters for people who can’t do it themselves.

As a child soldier and a cyborg, Violet has no knowledge of living among “normal humans”. Her new role in society will force her to understand complex concepts like love, friendship, and more.

Other than the fantastic story, the anime is a total visual treat – and the soundtrack is nothing to scoff at either.

 

6. My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia - All Might winners screenshot

Genre: Super-hero Fantasy, Adventure
Length: 88 Eps.
Studio: Bones

In a world where everyone has a unique special ability called a “quirk”, a new society of super-heroes has sprung up.

Izuku Midoriya is a quirk-less youth with the dream of becoming a super-hero – and after an encounter with his idol, #1 Hero All-Might, he’ll get his chance.

Manga author Kouhei Horikoshi learned much from the great victories and failures of seminal Shounen series like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece.

The result is the perfected battle fantasy with appealing character design, incredible battles, and excellent pacing – and the anime only improves on it.

 

5. Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan anime preview screen

Genre: Action, Dark Fantasy, Mystery
Length: 65+
Studio: Wit Studio + MAPPA

Attack on Titan became a worldwide phenomenon after the first episode aired back in 2013, mostly thanks to its unique setting and bold storytelling that’s not afraid to kill off main characters.

The show is set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity can only exist within three massive walls protecting them from the Titans – giant humanoid creatures that prey on humans.

After a colossal titan kicks a hole in the first wall, teenager protagonist Eren Yeager decides to join the military’s Scout Corps and find a way to fight back against the Titan threat.

Attack on Titan has proven itself to be irresistible to anime newcomers.

And its widespread appeal makes it a safe bet for anyone who can stomach a bit of animated blood.

 

4. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works anime

Genre: Fantasy, Battle Shounen
Length: 26 Eps.
Studio: Ufotable

The Fate series began in 2004 as a Visual Novel by Type/Moon that quickly grew into a media empire after an anime adaptation of its main “route” hit the screens in 2006.

The original adaptation hasn’t aged well.

But studio Ufotable did a terrific job of animating Unlimited Blade Works, an alternate route focusing on a different heroine.

It follows Shirou Emiya, a Japanese high school student trying to survive the Fifth Holy Grail War – a conflict between seven mage Masters commanding heroic spirits of the past like Hercules and Gilgamesh.

It’s full of action, exciting battles, some mystery, and even a little bit of romance.

 

3. Psycho-Pass

Psycho-Pass anime screenshot

Genre: Crime, Cyberpunk, Psychological Thriller
Length: 41 Eps.
Studio: Production I.G.

In a not-so-distant future, a complex A.I. known as the Sybil System is developed to measure people’s mental states and assign them a numeric value.

People past a certain level of “stress” are labeled “latent criminals” by the system, which judges them as a danger to society.

As a newbie Investigator for the Bureau of Public Safety, Akane Tsunemori will have to work with Enforcers – former officers whose jobs made them into latent criminals – to solve cases and protect the peace, understanding the dark side of the Sybil System in the process.

The show’s gripping storyline and psycho-thriller elements are perfect for fans of shows like Mindhunter and Criminal Minds.

 

2. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba anime

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Adventure
Length: 26 Eps.
Studio: Ufotable

After most of his family is murdered by bloodthirsty demons, young Tanjiro begins a journey to protect others from suffering the same fate.

The show is full of lovable characters and a setting that draws you further in the more you watch it – but the anime’s most remarkable achievement has to be its visual effects.

The special techniques wielded by demons and those who hunt them are out-of-this-world.

Along with Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer is one of the most effective methods to turn people into anime enthusiasts. Absolutely a must-try if this premise sounds enticing at all. You’ll know if you like it from the first episode.

 

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - Ed & Al Screenshot

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Adventure, Steampunk
Length: 64 Eps.
Studio: Bones

If you want to get someone hooked on anime, you can’t go wrong with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

It follows brothers Ed and Al Elric. After a failed attempt at bringing their mother back to life through alchemy backfires, costing Ed an arm and a leg, it also leaves Al a body-less soul chained to a set of armor.

Sounds crazy right?

Well now they’ll travel the world learning more about alchemy and hunting down the Philosopher’s Stone – a magical artifact with enough power to bring back their lost bodies.

This show will satisfy all kinds of viewers thanks to its emotional themes, intriguing world-building, and fantastic battles.

There’s also some mystery and political intrigue thrown in for good measure. Just a great anime hands-down, and certainly great for beginners looking into the genre.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.