Tanjiro and Nezuko from Demon Slayer

Anime to Watch for First-Timers

I’ve been a long time fan of anime since I was a little kid. I grew up watching it and it is a special art medium of my childhood. I still thoroughly enjoy it to this day. Over the years, anime has started to become more popular and accepting. This rise in popularity is inspiring many people to dive into watching anime. However, there may be some who are lost and don’t know which anime to start off with. I’m here to help! Being a long time anime fan, here are some anime I would recommend to first-timers. 

Any Studio Ghibli film 

Studio Ghibli films are universally beloved around the world regardless whether or not they do watch anime. I watched a few in my youth such as Spirited Away (2001), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008), My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and so on. Over the years, I watched more of them like From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) and The Wind Rises (2013). Hayao Miyazaki, the infamous director of the majority of these films, has such a deep and intriguing style of storytelling. Every Studio Ghibli film he directs is always filled with themes of human connection with nature and technology, peaceful methods of living, and the struggle with pacifistic ideologies in a violent world. Whether it be the meticulously realistic animation, beautiful OSTs, or the humanistic stories that hit close to the heart, these distinctive characteristics are what makes Studio Ghibli films so anticipating and loved by many all around the world. 

Photo from the film, CoMix Wave

Any Makoto Shinkai film

If you have already familiarized yourself with Studio Ghibli films, I suggest also watching Makoto Shinkai films. The most well known film of his is Kimi No Na Wa/Your Name (2016). Let me tell you: I CRIED SO MUCH WATCHING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME. I still cry whenever I decide to watch it again. The story centers around two characters: Mitsuha, a girl who lives in the countryside, and Taki, a boy who lives in the city of Tokyo. Both of them face an exclusive and magical phenomenon of switching bodies with each other; however, it becomes more rapidly complicated when they decide to meet in person. This film, upon viewing it for the first time, became one of my all time favorite films! 

Besides, Kimi No Na Wa/Your Name, Makoto Shinkai also has other great and amazing films like The Garden of Words (2013), Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011), Five Centimeters Per Second (2007), Weathering with You (2019), and many more. Weathering with You is his most recent film I have yet to watch. But the trailer looks incredible! Overall, the aesthetically pleasing animation and poignant scenes on top of enhancing music of Makoto Shinkai films has resulted in the affectionate cherishment from audiences. 

Haikyuu!! (2013 - present)

I don’t exactly watch sports anime that much, but Haikyuu!! is one exception. This anime has always been on my bucket list of animes to watch for years. However, it was only until earlier this year (thanks to quarantine) that I managed to finally have time to watch it. It centers around Hinata Shoyo who catches a snippet of a national championship high school volleyball game on TV. He notices a particular player nicknamed “The Tiny Giant” from the winning Karasuno High School volleyball team. Hinata suddenly becomes inspired and vows to become a volleyball player just like the Tiny Giant by attending Karasuno High School after graduating middle school.

To be honest, I knew nothing about how volleyball works or how to play. But thanks to Haikyuu!! I do now and I’m certain that I’m not alone with gaining the knowledge of the sport. Sports anime are effective in having an introduction and education on how a sport is played. It happened to me when watching Free! and now with Haikyuu!!

Not only do I love the anime for its dramatization of volleyball, but also portraying the emotional aspects behind playing the sport. For this anime to display such raw feelings allows for a better realistic understanding of what it feels like to be at the top and also be at the bottom; whenever a team wins a match or a team loses a match; whenever a player makes a remarkable move or a player completely messes up on the court. Seeing the characters developing their personality, teamwork, and volleyball skills makes audiences want to root for them and their self-improvement individually and together with their teammates. 

Currently, the anime is on its last season since the manga already reached its resolution. You wouldn’t want to miss it! 

Attack on Titan (2013 - present)

If you are a big fan of The Walking Dead, you’ll definitely love Attack on Titan. Instead of the story taking place in a zombie apocalypse, it takes place in a titan apocalypse which is perhaps much, much worse. As an attempt to not give too much away, the anime is about humanity being on the brink of extinction due to massive giants known as Titans who eat humans. As for the characters and how the story goes down, you will have to watch it and find out yourselves.   

Just a warning: the beginning will be very intense and chaotic to view. It is a rollercoaster of a story and I was so immersed in it that I didn’t realize how long I was binge watching it. Heck, even my friends got hooked on it! The story gets more engaging as it continues, so I suggest to pay very close attention and consider not doing anything else rather than simply watching. At least, that’s what I did since I was on the edge of my seat and didn’t want to miss a single second. 

The anime, like Haikyuu!!, is also heading towards its climatic final season at the end of 2020 so I recommend watching it as soon as possible to catch up!

 Brotherhood Bones studio

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009 - 2012)

I wanted to save this anime as the best for last because it is one of my all time favorite animes! Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood takes place in a world of alchemy following the point of view of two brothers, Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric. Upon Edward losing his right arm and left leg and Alphonse losing his entire body in an attempt to resurrect their dead mother by conducting a human transmutation spell, they together set out on a tumultuous journey to find a way to obtain their bodies back. FMAB is the anime I always recommend anime first-timers to watch. It is timeless and classical. It never gets old. Not to mention that while it does have its serious moments, the anime also possesses plenty of humor that I guarantee will be very entertaining. 

Although, a previous version of the anime was released years before FMAB simply titled Fullmetal Alchemist (2003 - 2004), both versions still follow the same goal of Edward and Alphonse wanting to obtain their bodies back; however, the way they achieve that goal is vastly different. Personally, I advise people to watch FMAB instead of FMA because of the endings. FMA’s ending is bittersweet but dissatisfying; FMAB, on the other hand, is a lot more preferable and happier. 

You may be wondering: why are there two versions of this anime? Well, this has to do with the original manga. Anime shows are typically derived from the manga of the same name. An anime adaptation becomes established when the manga has enough chapters to animate. In the case for FMA, it was commissioned for an anime adaptation and then came out while the manga was still ongoing and in the works. One golden rule, though, is that the anime is required to be behind on the manga so the mangaka (manga creator), Hiromu Arakawa, has time to work on it. The animators can then use it as blueprint material to animate. However, FMA was quickly able to catch up with the manga. To compensate for this mishappening, the anime went on to have a completely different plot which resulted in the bittersweet and dissatisfying ending. When the manga had enough material to animate and eventually came to a close in 2010, that is when FMAB was established. This version is more faithful in following the manga compared to FMA. Additionally, anime improved in animation and FMAB was one of the anime to undergo this advancement. 

Everyone has their own preferences to anything, including anime. So, it is completely alright if any of these don’t suit your likings! Ultimately, I am very happy that anime is finally receiving the recognition as an art form it has always deserved. There are hundreds to thousands of animes to watch and enjoy so it is best to search through and see which genres of anime you like and don’t like. I only listed mostly mainstream anime as I believe it to be the best way to start out. I would love to add more recommended anime to this list so...stay tuned for a possible part 2 in the later future!