I’ve seen some anime folks over the years debate about what products they should use to get people into the whole hobby. After being asked this question myself and some thinking on the subject, I compiled a nice little list of stuff I’d introduce to a newcomer in order for them to get a feel for anime, along with some short reasons why.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a list of anime I actually like (although there are some on here as well) and you don’t necessarily have to finish all of these. But if you want to consider yourself a fan, it’d probably be helpful to have an opinion on these shows. Now I honestly wouldn’t recommend seeing the more mindfucky ones on this list first, but it’d be good to get into them early nevertheless.
Akira – We all know that America became more accepting of the medium when Akira hit its shores, and I think it’s essential that anime fans understand why.
Aria – Pretty much the definitive slice-of-life/healing show.
Azumanga Daioh – Has everything that categorizes 4-koma adaptations/cute girl stuff in one package.
Cardcaptor Sakura – Sailor Moon may have came first, but this anime represents the straight-up magical girl stuff better. Plus it’s a good introduction to CLAMP to boot.
Clannad – Is there any anime that defines the pros and cons of VN adaptations as well as this one?
Cowboy Bebop – Do I really need to explain why Bebop is on here?
Death Note – Melodramatic visual storytelling at its most hardcore.
Eureka Seven – The underdog romance/mecha story that touched a generation.
Fist of the North Star – Kenshiro demands that all shonen fans looking for manliness see him in action as a precursor to all the other manly ones out there!
Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) – The original FMA nails pretty much all the basics of what most people want in a quality anime based on established source material in general.
Gintama – Probably the most accessible Shonen Jump series in existence. Even in its comedic satire, it’s still knee-deep in everything that categorizes shonen.
Kare Kano – Whilst it can be argued if this is the peak of romantic comedies, it definitely does all the cliches with charm.
Mobile Suit Gundam – If you’re going to get into the most relevant mecha franchise since the 80s, might be good to start with the original.
Natsume’s Book of Friends – The easiest of the episodic adventure/atmosphere shows to fall in love with.
Neon Genesis Evangelion – Because it’s Evangelion.
Ranma 1/2 – If you indulge in 80s anime without having seen this, there is something wrong with you.
Revolutionary Girl Utena – Because after you see this, you’ll realize just how crazy anime can be.
Spirited Away/Princess Mononoke – The definitive Ghibli films and for good reason.
Tenchi Muyo – There’s a reason it’s called the granddaddy of harem anime.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – Because who hell do you think you are to exclude me from this list?
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – All the “started with one good volume only to become crap in later volumes” LN adaptations and school club anime became noticeable when Haruhi appeared.
Am I missing anything? If so, feel free to comment below. Or make your own list. That’s cool too.
Oh, and here’s a short list of anime I intentionally left off because I think something above represents what it does better (even if the thing that’s left off is a better product on the whole) or because it’s too uninspired to recommend.
Stuff I Intentionally Left Off: Madoka Magica, FLCL, Shakugan no Shana, Steins;Gate, Ghost in the Shell, Lupin III, Macross, Shuffle, Code Geass, Angel Beats, Black Lagoon, Satoshi Kon/Makoto Shinkai films, Yoshitori ABe anime