Nine Anime Series for Newbies

If you’re already a D20-hard anime fan, you may want to skip this post… or engage me in a lively debate over what should have been included. Remember, I’m limiting this post to nine titles – three for each category!

For those who aren’t so familiar with anime, it’s hard to know where to start. Simplistic animations and huge eyes with quivering teardrops and invisible noses might pop into mind whenever you think of anime, but people ask you if you know particular anime series whenever you mention that you’re a geek. Why not give it a try and see if you enjoy this trend? Here are some series to watch…

…because everyone has!

Sailor Moon was the anime a generation grew up with. If you can read the words “moon princess” without cringing, you might like this. If you like the idea of magical girls on a team, you’ll almost certainly like this. Much like Harry Potter for writers, this inspired a generation of anime artists, too, so we have a lot to thank it for.

Death Note, a relatively recent anime, had a quiet entrance at first, then exploded onto the scene. For a while, you could hardly walk a few feet at an anime con without bumping into an L cosplayer. I haven’t been to one lately, so I’m not sure if it’s still that bad, but Death Note merchandise is displayed alongside the other merchandise from series “everyone knows” in stores, so it can’t have faded away all that much.

Bleach or Naruto are the two “epic series” with hundreds of episodes out. Don’t be scared… you don’t have to watch the whole series to know what’s going on. In fact, it may be better if you watch a few early episodes and then skip to recent ones. Ninjas, demons, wise teachers and foolish students, evil spirits, and an insanely huge fandom to indulge in if you turn out to like it. What’s not to love?

…because nobody has!

Dennou Coil, an anime based in the frighteningly near future, lets those daydreams of what might happen if we integrate technology with humans become played out on the screen. It isn’t very well-known in North America, but was highly anticipated in Japan, and won a number of awards.

Wolf’s Rain may be a little better-known, but it isn’t one of those widely talked-about series that is always referenced. Great characters and an interesting plot about wolves (duh), true friendship, and a lot of danger… but there’s more. Just watch it to see!

Yami No Matsuei, a refreshing relief from anime series featuring shinigami — there are shikigami instead — is known as Descendants of Darkness in English. It’s very character-based, rather than being a flashy, fighting-style anime, though there’s enough conflict to keep the story going.

…because everybody will!

High School of the Dead, a very new anime series, is based on an existing manga. It’s pretty easy to tell what this is about from the title. The zombie apocalypse is here (don’t laugh, I know you have a backup plan for this scenario!), and a high school is caught in the crossfire. Deeper issues are examined as the series goes on, making it satisfying for zombie fans and psychological, social anime fans too.

Arakawa Under the Bridge… a series based on a group of crazy people living under a bridge. (Can you imagine the cosplays? I can…) Anyway, the main character claims to be the only sane one, but that’s thrown into some pretty serious doubt as time goes on. This could well be a popular one, or it could fade into one of those little-known gems instead.

Angel Beats! has a team of well-known people backing it, so it’s likely going to be popular already. On top of that, it shapes up to be an emotional anime that crosses the afterlife with high school. According to the creator, it’s a series about the value of life, even though the characters are dead. Awesome? I think so too.

Your turn!

What are the “must watch” anime series for you? I know there are a host of classics I missed, from Miyazaki to Pokemon, and plenty of new releases I didn’t cover… let me know what your favorites were!

For new anime watchers, what have you tried watching, and how did you like it?

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