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28 Animes To Watch If You've Never Seen Anime

If you've been looking for an introduction to anime, these are your way in.

1. Sword Art Online

A-1 Pictures

Great if you like: World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, RPGs

Not only does the story offer everything from adventure to romance, it's full of nods to RPGs that gamers will love. Plus the music and action sequences are absolutely sick.

2. Darker Than Black


Great if you like: Marvel, crime shows, mystery

This show plays around with a familiar question — what happens when humans are suddenly granted superpowers without their choosing? We love to see it explored in comics and movies, so anime is no exception.

3. Blood+

Production http://I.G.

Great if you like: Vampire mythology, dark fantasy, horror

If you thought vampire mythology couldn't get any darker, think again. Blood+ offers a creative twist on the creation and destruction of bloodsucking demons, along with badass fight scenes starring one of the most engaging and sympathetic heroines in anime.

4. Black Lagoon


Great if you like: Bourne films, crime dramas, dark comedies

Sure, the action sequences are pretty gripping — car chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat — but the show never uses its big-production-style fight scenes as a substitute for a compelling plot. Also, there's no magic, so it's a refreshing change from a lot of the fantasy themes found in anime.

5. Attack on Titan

Wit Studio

Great if you like: The Hunger Games, postapocalyptic dystopia, action fantasy

Honestly, the theme song alone will probably suck you in. If that doesn't do it, then watching humans propel themselves into the sky and slash at colossal giants heralding the apocalypse will. Fair warning, though — the show is still running, so prepare for feelings of emptiness once you're caught up with the series.

6. Outlaw Star


Great if you like: Firefly, westerns, space operas

Everyone loves a good space romp, and if you're going to get stuck on a space vessel with a bunch of outlaws, it better be with a dynamic cast (spoiler alert, it is). There's a ton of laughter, but the show is also grounded in a gritty realness and emotional complexity that only deepens the more you watch it.

7. Full Metal Panic!


Great if you like: Ender's Game, military sci-fi, action

This show nails the awkwardness of high school, but it does it while throwing in awesome fight scenes and mastermind criminals. Also, how could you not fall in love with an awkward, maladjusted military prodigy trying to make his way through high school?

8. Last Exile


Great if you like: Howl's Moving Castle, aviation, steampunk

Not many shows are able to pull off a retro-futuristic steampunk look without it becoming a storytelling crutch, but it works so well for Last Exile that it's become a staple steampunk anime. You'll fall in love with the setting, the characters, and the idea of piloting a vanship.

9. Claymore


Great if you like: Game of Thrones, gore, dark fantasies

Swords. Blood. Gore. A badass heroine fighting with swords and causing lots of blood and gore. Badass demon shapeshifters preying on humanity. Need we say more?

10. Trigun


Great if you like: Blazing Saddles, comedy, shoot -'em-ups

The main character has a bounty on his head larger than a frontier town and a reputation for laying waste to entire towns. Though he comes across as a notorious outlaw, he's really just a doughnut-loving goof who will have you laughing, crying, and sitting on the edge of your seat throughout the entire series.

11. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood


Great if you like: Avatar: The Last Airbender, science fantasy, adventure

You'll fall in love with the stars of the show — two brothers striving to restore their bodies after making a grave mistake. Theirs is one of the most dynamic and compelling relationships you'll ever see, and you'll get to experience it in the midst of one of the coolest magic (well, science) systems ever created.

12. Samurai Champloo


Great if you like: Beat Street, dark comedy, hip-hop

It's a story about samurai, but with elements of hip-hop blended in. They sound like disparate elements, but they manage to meld perfectly together in the anime. Oh, and the main characters are hunting down a samurai who smells like sunflowers, so that's cool too.

13. Death Note


Great if you like: Dexter, psychological thrillers, supernatural elements

A notebook that can kill people — it's a seemingly simple concept that completely unravels throughout the series. This show will make you think, and even more than that, it will make you question.

14. Code Geass


Great if you like: Artemis Fowl, drama, action fantasy

It's a story about rising up against oppression, except it's anime so you get to see it done with mecha and cool superpowers. Also, the action sequences are perfectly coupled with battles of wit and intellect, making it one of the most visually engaging animes out there.

15. Cowboy Bebop


Great if you like: Star Wars, space adventure, film noir

Cowboy Bebop one of the crowning achievements in storytelling. Cowboy Bebop proves that jazz, space travel, and westerns are the perfect fusion, and you'll get to see it played out by following cowboys, bounty hunters, and drifters struggling to find themselves in a disjointed world. Also, it's set to one of best soundtracks in the history of anime.

16. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Production http://I.G.

Great if you like: The Matrix, cyberpunk, sci-fi action

The show manages to perfectly blend action with exploring the idea of human-cyborg hybrids. Plus, if you love crime shows, you get to watch a top-notch cybernetic law enforcement unit take on the most dangerous hackers and criminals.

17. Elfen Lied


Great if you like: Lucy, psychological horror, nightmares

If you love gore and having your emotions ripped to shreds, you won't find a better anime to get you started. This exploration of a hybrid species interacting with humanity starts off dark, and only gets darker the more you watch it.

18. Wolf’s Rain


Great if you like: I Am Legend, adventure fantasy, and obviously, wolves

Everything about this show is art — the soundtrack, the visuals, the writing. It's an intricate web of symbolism and brotherhood that will have you crying the ugliest of ugly cries. By the end of it, you'll want a wolf pack of your very own.

19. Eureka Seven


Great if you like: Treasure Planet, action, romance

People and giant robots surf through the sky, and look DAMN cool while doing it. More specifically, a group of outlaws surf through the sky. Also, the visuals are crazy impressive, and there's beautiful world-building that happens throughout the series.

20. Soul Eater


Great if you like: Battle Royale, supernatural elements, dark humor

It has a crazy cool premise — the personification of death runs a high school that trains humans who can transform into weapons and humans who can wield weapons. Also, it's set in Nevada.

21. Mushishi


Great if you like: Spirited Away, folktales, philosophy

Everything about this show is absolutely breathtaking — the visuals, the soundtrack, the animation. It’s more of a work of art than anything else, and it’s unlike any other anime out there. If you’re into slower pacing and pondering the beginning of life, this is a show you’ll absolutely love.

22. Psycho-Pass

Production http://I.G.

Great if you like: Law and Order, cyberpunk, action-adventure

It tackles a question many of us have wondered — is there something in our personalities that makes us predestined to be criminals? According to the world this show is set in, the answer is yes. This anime follows a police team who is able to apprehend people based on the qualitative aspects of their personality.

23. Clannad

Kyoto Animation

Great if you like: The Fault in Our Stars, romance, ugly crying

The premise of this show seems easygoing enough — a school delinquent meets a random girl in the hallway and agrees to help her revive the school drama club. But for whatever reason, this anime will have your emotional barometer going haywire. Be prepared to laugh shamelessly and cry the ugliest of cries.

24. Fruits Basket

Studio Deen

Great if you like: Penelope, romantic comedies, fantasy

A young orphan girl comes to live with a family possessed by animals of the Chinese zodiac. Essentially, if she embraces them, they turn into the animal that possesses them. It's cute, funny, and expectedly heartfelt.

25. Tokyo Ghoul


Great if you like: Stephen King novels, dark horror, supernatural elements

No one tires of watching your ordinary average Joe gain supernatural powers, especially when it's set in a Tokyo where ghouls constantly devour humans. It's dark, it's gory, and it's not afraid to mess with your head and spend episodes at a time building up suspense.

26. Black Butler

A-1 Pictures

Great if you like: Batman, supernatural elements, attractive demons

You won't be able to get enough of the demon butler who hangs around the young rich kid trying to avenge his parents' death. He's cool, charming, witty, and pretty much the reason why you won't be able to stop watching this show once you start.

27. Vampire Knight

Studios Deen

Great if you like: Twilight, young adult fantasy, romance

Vampires and humans both attend Cross Academy. The vampires go to school at night, and the humans go to school during the day. Of course, since it's high school, shit like romance, vampire deaths, and emotionally turmoil happen too.

28. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Tatsunoko Production

Great if you like: Pacific Rim, apocalyptic dystopia, action fantasy

Giant. Robot. Battles. Not only that, but giant robot battles woven into a plot chock-full of religious symbolism, teenage angst, and humanity desperately struggling to survive. It's the ultimate underdog story, and your love for it will deepen each time you rewatch it.