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Anime has become a worldwide sensation, dominating the animation industry with its complex plots, stunning animation, and captivating world-building. With its ability to capture even the shortest attention spans, anime has become an unparalleled gateway to an entirely new realm of entertainment.
For newcomers to the genre, adapting to subtitles is just the first step in discovering this unique art form. From timeless classics to modern hits, there are plenty of critically acclaimed anime series that make great starting points for beginners. Here are a few of the best anime shows to watch for those just starting out.
14. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (2022)
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a television series that takes place within the same universe as the popular video game Cyberpunk 2077. The show follows the journey of a skilled protagonist named David, who is pulled into the dangerous world of the “edgerunners” – a group of underground mercenaries operating outside the law.
As David becomes more deeply involved in his new career, he navigates a treacherous world filled with complex relationships, personal sacrifices, and harrowing missions. Through his experiences, he forges both powerful alliances and bitter rivalries, ultimately discovering the true cost of his chosen path.
What sets Cyberpunk: Edgerunners apart is not only its stunning dystopian cyberpunk world but also its emotionally charged storyline that takes its intricate characters on a turbulent journey. Though it is a short anime, it is not for the faint of heart, as its hard-hitting themes and jarring moments make for a challenging and impactful viewing experience.
Despite its brevity, the show manages to explore complex and profound themes, showcasing the struggles of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Its masterful storytelling, coupled with its incredible animation, makes Cyberpunk: Edgerunners an unforgettable experience for both newcomers and seasoned anime fans alike.
Based on Konami’s renowned Japanese video game series, Castlevania is an anime that takes place in medieval Europe and follows the story of Trevor, the last surviving member of the Belmont family. Trevor’s quest to defend Eastern Europe from Vlad Dracula Tepes, and his army of monsters, sets the stage for a gripping tale of horror and fantasy that also delves into themes of family, faith, and the consequences of one’s actions.
Warren Ellis’s series has earned critical and popular acclaim for its inventive twist on the classic vampire story, and its ability to appeal to both seasoned anime fans and newcomers to the genre. Castlevania’s unique blend of action, drama, and thought-provoking themes makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to dive into the world of anime.
12. My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is an ongoing anime series that follows the story of Izuku Midoriya, a young boy living in a world where having superpowers, known as “Quirks,” is the norm. Despite being born without a Quirk, Izuku dreams of becoming a hero, and his life changes forever after meeting his idol, All Might, who chooses him to be his successor.
Directed by Kenji Nagasaki, the show has received widespread acclaim for its stunning animation and lovable characters. My Hero Academia explores themes such as duty, power, and legacy, resonating with viewers of all ages. With a large and dedicated fan base, the series is an excellent choice for beginners who want to delve into a current and beloved anime.
11. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
If you’re looking for an anime that’s both bizarre and exciting, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is the perfect pick. The show follows the members of the Joestar family, who possess generational powers to defeat forces of evil. However, with each new generation, the family is plagued by a curse that they must overcome to save the world.
The series is split into eight volumes, each one taking place in a different era and focusing on a different member of the Joestar family. With jaw-dropping fights, quirky humor, and eyebrow-raising absurdity, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure takes viewers on a wild ride through the different eras, uncovering the origins of the curse.
The anime’s campy fashion and theatrical villains make it feel like a fever dream, and its increasingly vibrant seasons will leave you captivated. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a must-watch for those who want to experience an anime that’s truly out of this world.
10. Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen may be a relatively new anime, but it has already made a significant impact in the anime world. The show follows a young sorcerer on a journey to exorcise a demon that he has consumed. Along the way, Jujutsu Kaisen explores the connections between the soul and the body, making it a perfect choice for fans of the occult.
With stunning animation, compelling characters, and gory fight scenes, Jujutsu Kaisen is a gripping dark fantasy that has captured the attention of many viewers. It’s a great choice for beginners who are entering the modern generation of anime.
For those looking to sample the show, there’s a prequel in film form called Jujutsu Kaisen 0. And for fans eager for more, the second season of Jujutsu Kaisen is set to be released in July 2023. Get ready for more epic battles and supernatural adventures in the world of Jujutsu Kaisen.
9. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has become a sensation in the anime world since its first episode aired in 2019. The story follows Tanjiro Kamado, a young boy who embarks on a journey to avenge his family and find a cure for his sister after a demon attack.
The series has become popular due to its unique premise, stunning visuals, and epic sword-fighting choreography that pays homage to Japanese artistry. The recent release of the film adaptation, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, has only further cemented the show’s status as a modern classic. Whether you’re new to anime or a long-time fan, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is definitely worth checking out.
8. One Punch Man
One Punch Man, a Japanese webcomic developed by ONE, has been adapted into a manga and an anime series. The story follows Saitama, a superhero who can defeat any foe with a single punch, but has grown bored with the lack of challenge in his battles against evil. One Punch Man subverts traditional superhero and shōnen manga tropes with its humor and satire.
Thanks to its unique style, top-notch animation, and comedic tone, One Punch Man has become a hugely popular series with fans. The deadpan humor and unusual outlook of Saitama, the show’s protagonist, have also earned him a dedicated following.
7. Naruto: Shippuden
Naruto: Shippuden is a beloved classic that has left an indelible mark on pop culture. With a decade-long run and 500 episodes, it is a member of the Big Three Shonen that helped popularize anime worldwide. The story follows Naruto as he grows up and trains to become a ninja leader for his village.
Naruto’s journey of self-discovery has resonated deeply with fans, who have praised the show for its iconic combat animation and sentimental value. It’s a great option for beginners looking for a more relaxed and accessible anime experience. Many fans have grown up with this show and credit it with shaping who they are today.
Steins;Gate is a science-fiction anime that delves into the concept of time travel and the potential consequences of altering the past. The story takes place in Akihabara, Japan and follows a group of friends as they experiment with sending text messages back in time to change their futures.
With the potential for even minor changes to have massive ripple effects, the show creates a sense of tension and anxiety that keeps viewers engaged. Beyond its time travel concept, Steins;Gate is also a character-driven story that explores complex relationships and the importance of personal agency. Fans of science-fiction and thrillers will find this show to be a thought-provoking and emotional journey.
5. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is a timeless classic that remains one of the highest-rated anime series ever. Set in a futuristic world where a group of bounty hunters travels through the Solar System aboard their ship, the Bebop, the show explores themes of existentialism and the search for a sense of belonging in a group of outcasts. A fusion of sci-fi cyberpunk, Western, and neo-noir, Cowboy Bebop is an exhilarating and unpredictable ride.
With 26 half-hour episodes, the show is easy to binge-watch and universally acclaimed, making it an excellent entry point for those new to the world of anime.
4. Death Note
Death Note, a timeless classic and a must-watch for any anime fan, is a dark and suspenseful crime thriller that delves into the blurred lines between justice and morality. The series follows Light Yagami, a brilliant high school student who discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it.
As Light begins to use the Death Note to rid the world of criminals, he attracts the attention of a genius detective known only as “L,” who becomes determined to stop him. The battle of wits between the two characters and the complex themes of power, morality, and justice make Death Note an unforgettable viewing experience.
With stunning animation and a haunting soundtrack, the series creates a chilling atmosphere that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Death Note is a twisted psychological thriller that challenges the viewer’s notions of right and wrong, leaving a lasting impact on all who watch it.
3. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan has become a global sensation with its intense and mature exploration of war, morality, and humanity’s struggle for survival against monstrous Titans. The anime’s unique and disturbingly realistic animation style creates a thrilling experience for viewers as they witness the Titans’ violent rampage and the heroic efforts of the characters to fight back.
Despite its dark and graphic content, Attack on Titan’s gripping storytelling, multifaceted characters, and intricate world-building have earned it critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. It’s a must-watch for those who can handle the visceral and thought-provoking nature of the show.
2. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a stunning steampunk dark fantasy anime that explores the themes of grief, war, and morality. The story follows two brothers who use alchemy to resurrect their dead mother but suffer tragic consequences. In their quest to regain their lost limbs and bodies, they uncover a sinister conspiracy and fight against powerful enemies.
Despite its short episode length of 12-18 minutes, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood delivers a well-crafted and emotionally resonant narrative. The series masterfully weaves together character arcs, creating a powerful bond between the brothers that is at the heart of the show. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a must-watch for those who crave a thought-provoking and heart-wrenching anime experience.
1. Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender, created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, is a groundbreaking series set in a mystical world where people can manipulate the elements through a power called “bending.” The show follows Aang, the Avatar and the only one who can save the world from chaos and destruction.
The series has been widely lauded for its animation, world-building, and portrayal of various cultures, as well as its engaging storyline, memorable characters, and willingness to tackle complex issues like war, genocide, and oppression. With a highly anticipated live-action adaptation currently in the works, now is the perfect time to experience this beloved anime series.
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