For years, anime has been a popular form of entertainment with a distinct 2D art style that originated from Japan. From classic 90’s anime to modern shows, many fans have their own favorite shows, characters, and series. Although the world of anime is vast and can appeal to a variety of people, not everyone is into it. Not everyone loves the high school settings, characters who fit into a trope, and the cliches we both love and hate at the same time. The cute anime girls and weird situations aren’t always going to appeal to all viewers, and that’s totally okay. In fact, some people don’t like anime at all. However, there are some series out there that can appeal to non-fans regardless of what your stance on anime is. These series have deep, intriguing plots that can appeal to most everyone, especially those who are curious but have no idea where to start.
However, there are some series out there that can appeal to non-fans regardless of what your stance on anime is. These series have deep, intriguing plots that can appeal to most everyone, including beginners, and especially those who are curious about the genre but have no idea where to start.
Here are our picks for the top 10 best anime for beginners below. (Note: These are unranked).
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1. Death Note
For fans of: crime shows, detective stories
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Discovering the power to kill anyone by writing their name in the notebook, Light Yagami embraces his power as a “god”. Working behind the scenes, he looks to eliminate all criminals by writing their name in his notebook. Bewildering the police force, he goes under the watch of L, a famous detective who infiltrates Light’s everyday life. Not only is this series intense, but it also has a lot of moral and ethical dilemmas that cause the viewer to question their everyday life and the rights of criminals. It is deeply rooted in philosophy and also has a lot of elements of western culture. When you get hooked, you may find yourself binge watching episode after episode until the next plot twist unravels.
For fans of: Back to the Future, time travel, sci-fi
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: What if you discovered time travel? College student Okabe and his friend Daru discover a way to alter the future by a text message and a microwave. Sending a text from a few days prior prevents the death of Makise Kurisu, a scientist who was murdered during an academic conference. Will Okabe be able to keep his friends and the one he loves? Steins; Gate is a suspenseful time-travel tale that will teach you more about physics and the academics of time travel than you probably ever learned before. It is emotional and successfully attaches you to the characters. Sure, Steins;Gate may be set in the otaku dreamland of the Akiba district of Tokyo, but it still appeals to non-fans with its gripping, emotional story that will leave you in joy (and in tears). The start is a bit slow but it picks up at a rapid pace after a couple episodes.
3. Cowboy BeBop
For fans of: space operas, sci-fi
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Known as one of the most classic and beloved anime of all time, Cowboy Bebop is a must watch. Following a group of bounty hunters in space, this show focuses on the space cowboy’s quests to chase criminals for rewards. However, they must bring them back alive. Not only does the anime have a great storyline, but it is also noted as one of the best gateway anime for those who aren’t into the genre. It’s also very well received in the West and responsible for bringing the genre over here in the early 2000s. Cowboy Bebop is probably one of the best choices for a non-anime fan on this list.
4. Psycho Pass
For fans of: Criminal Minds, crime tv, dystopian
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Something about crime shows makes them really appealing, whether it’s trying to solve the mystery behind a shocking murder or the twists and turns in each episode. Psycho Pass has a little of all of this, but with another side to things, a dystopian universe. In the near future, cops and detectives carry dominators, guns that determine the psyche of their target. Criminals are determined by their psycho-pass, a scan that reveals someone’s psychological state which gives them a crime coefficient. The higher the level, the more likely someone is able to engage in violent crimes. Based on one’s psycho pass, an officer has access to a dominator in order paralyze, shoot, or eliminate a target. There are many moral dilemmas with the case per episode format that is similar to western crime shows.
For fans of: relatable sitcoms, romantic comedies, dramas
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Set in Tokyo, two young adult girls from different backgrounds meet on a train, and are both named Nana. After meeting, they eventually decide to get an apartment together, and their stories unfold. There is rarely an anime that conveys the struggles of young adulthood in such a realistic and relatable way. Both Nanas have intriguing backstories: Nana Osaki, a former singer of a rock band and Nana Komatsu, a girl who’s in search of true love. Although there are plenty of hilarious moments, there are also struggles, such as paying rent, breakups, and more. It truly feels like a masterfully written sitcom and the dub makes it feel like a western show.
6. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
For fans of: sci-fi, detective stories, crime TV
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Following the detective theme with a different twist, Ghost in the Shell is regarded as one of the best anime classics from the 1990’s/early 2000s. The story follows Section-9, a special task force that deals with political corruption and cybercrime. Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg with a cyber brain, is a strong female lead that is beloved by many fans. The series follows her adventures in Section-9 and has an awesome cyberpunk vibe that is reminiscent of the Internet era. Like many other classic anime series, Ghost in the Shell is known for having a following in the states.
7. Neon Genesis Evangelion
For fans of: Transformers, robots, sci-fi, mecha
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Giant robots, psychological and philosophical themes, and complicated characters make Evangelion one of the most beloved anime of all time. Following the operations of NERV and the teenagers who pilot large mechs called EVA units, this series focuses on the human vs. angel fight. Angels are aliens who have destroyed Earth and invade the city, the only hope being the EVA units. There are a lot of underlying themes and characters that make this anime both enjoyable and heartbreaking to watch. For fans of robot fights or sci-fi, Evangelion is a great pick.
8. Studio Ghibli Movies
For fans of: Disney
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Cute, heartwarming animals, stories, and memorable characters characterize some of our favorite childhood films. Aimed at children but made for everyone of all ages, these types of films become instant favorites. Studio Ghibli is famous for making these types of movies, with charm that is on par and can surpass Disney films. From My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away, there are several films by Hayao Miyazaki that are beautifully animated in 2D and are masterful forms of storytelling. Similar to Disney films, they are both timeless and ageless from generation to generation.
9. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
For fans of: adventure, action, fantasy
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: FMA:Brotherhood is a unique adventure and a very easy watch. The story follows Edward Elric, a boy who hopes to get his brother Alphonse’s body back after a tragic accident, become a licensed State Alchemist, and eventually seek the philosopher’s stone. However, he runs into problems with government conspiracy and homunculi who want to stop him in his tracks. The characters are well written and the setting differs from the norm. Binge watching the entire Brotherhood anime may be necessary since there are several cliffhangers.
10. Attack on Titan
For fans of: action, suspense, horror
Why it appeals to non-anime fans: Back in 2013, Attack on Titan caused a resurgence of anime in popular culture. The dark, gritty anime appealed to a mass audience, from hardcore anime fans to those who have never seen an anime before. The story followed Eren Jaeger, a boy who lost his mother to monstrous, human-like beings called Titans. His adventure follows him and the rest of his peers in the army as they discovered ways to take down the Titans, protected the cities from invasions, and attempted to solve why there are titans. Although the first season of the anime stopped at 26 episodes (second season out in 2017), the manga continued on. Attack on Titan gained so much popularity very quickly and brought more attention to modern/newer anime series, especially in the western world.