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If You've Never Watched Anime Before, Here Are 15 Great Series To Get Started With

You might even wonder why you didn't watch anime earlier.

In Japanese, "anime" is the term for all animated works β€” unlike in English, where "cartoon" is usually associated with kids' shows.

Sentai Filmworks / Via giphy.com

Recently, many popular TikToks sample audio from anime. Even Megan Thee Stallion(!) has mentioned anime characters in her music.

Now, if you've never watched anime and don't know where to start β€” in no particular order β€” here are 15 great anime shows to start watching:

1. Attack On Titan

Eren facing the colossal titan
Wit Studio / MAPPA / Funimation / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: dystopian fiction, plot twists, slight gore, horror

Attack on Titan is set in a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by enormous walls to protect them from human-devouring titans. The story centers around Eren Jaeger and his childhood friends, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert. Their lives change forever after the appearance of a Colossal Titan, which brings about the destruction of their hometown and the death of Eren's mother.

All of the characters undergo incredible growth throughout the series, and there are so many plot twists to blow your mind. It really makes you question your own morals and today's society regarding what's truly considered "right" or "wrong."

2. Fruits Basket

The Sohmas and Tohru strolling on the beach
Studio Dean / Funimation / TV Tokyo / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: romcoms, supernatural, drama, high school settings

Fruits Basket centers around 16-year-old Tohru Honda, a recent orphan whose mother's death left her living in a tent. When her small home is discovered by the mysterious Sohma family, she finds herself living with Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure Sohma. But she quickly learns their family has a strange secret of their own: when hugged by the opposite sex, they turn into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

There are two versions of Fruits Basket. The one from 2001 is a loose adaptation of the manga, whereas the 2019 version is more faithful to the manga. Personally, I much prefer the 2019 version in its story and art style, and the story also gets darker as it progresses.

3. Haikyu!!

Hinata reaches for the ball as he is surrounded by the Karasuno High School boys' volleyball team
Production I.G / Sentai Filmworks / Crunchyroll / JNN / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: underdog stories, sports, high school settings, comedy

Whether or not you're into volleyball, you'll definitely love this heartwarming anime. Haikyu!! can make you laugh, smile, cry, and maybe even motivate you to go out for a run. This sports anime follows Shoyo Hinata, a short boy who falls in love with volleyball when he sees a Karasuno High School player who is the same height as him competing at nationals.

As soon as he enters high school, he joins the same volleyball club, determined to be the next "Little Giant," only to find out the Karasuno volleyball club isn't the same as it used to be. It's up to Hinata, the incoming first years, and the remaining members to prove to the world that they're not the same "fallen champions." And with the way the opposing teams are portrayed, you can't help but root for all teams.

4. Violet Evergarden

Violet jumping with a parasol in hand and her skirt floating around her
Kyoto Animation / Netflix / Tokyo MX / Via netflix.com

Watch if you enjoy: Studio Ghibli films, romance, drama, crying

What are emotions and what does it mean to love? In Violet Evergarden, Violet is an orphan and child soldier who searches for her purpose at the end of a war. Her commander had confessed he loves her before dying, but she struggles to understand the meaning of love. She joins a writing agency to become an "Automatic Memory Doll," typists who write letters that express clients' feelings. As her talent as a doll flourishes, Violet navigates the world, deciphering the complexity of human emotions in her post-war life.

The visuals β€” gorgeous. The voice acting β€” wonderful. The storytelling β€” will leave you in tears. It's even said to be impossible to watch episode 10 dry-eyed (for the record, I was definitely ugly crying).

5. My Hero Academia

UA's first years of Class 1-A in their hero uniform looking into the distance
Bones / Funimation / JNN / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: superheroes, action, high school settings, comedy

My Hero Academia is set in a society where 80% of the population has a superpower or "quirk." The story focuses on Izuku "Deku" Midoriya, a teenage boy whose dream is to be a hero even though he was born without a quirk. Despite this obvious challenge, he enrolls in one of the world's most prestigious hero academies.

What's refreshing about Midoriya is that he isn't the typical "macho" male protagonist β€” he's kind, cares deeply for his friends, isn't afraid to show his emotions, and is a total fanboy, while also being strong a hero to look up to.

6. Your Lie in April

Kousei and Kaori looking into each other's eyes
A-1 Pictures / Aniplex of America / Fuji TV / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: romcoms, classical music, drama, school settings, crying

After the death of his mother, piano prodigy Kousei Arima's will to play disappears. Every day felt black and white until he meets violin-playing, free-spirited Kaori Miyazono who turns his life around.

Your Lie in April's captivating art style is breathtakingly gorgeous, and the story is heart-wrenching on a Nicholas Sparks level.

7. Demon Slayer

Tanjiro and Nezuko with their backs to each other, fiercely looking into the distance
Ufotable / Aniplex of America / Tokyo MX / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: supernatural, action, drama, comedy, coming-of-age stories

Demon Slayer is set in Taishō-era Japan (1912-1926 period) and follows Tanjiro Kamado as he begins a quest for vengeance to find the demon who slaughtered his family and turned his sister into a demon.

The animation is so well done and beautifully executed. Moreover, Tanjiro is such a wholesome and likable character, you can't help but want to see him succeed.

8. The Promised Neverland

Emma and her "siblings" smiling happily
CloverWorks / Aniplex of America / Fuji TV / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: fantasy, mystery, horror, suspense, plot twists

The Promised Neverland is set in the year 2045, where 11-year-old Emma lives in a small orphanage housing her and her 37 "siblings." The orphans are basically allowed to do whatever they want, except wander out to the gate that separates the house from the outside world. Life seems perfect until Emma and her two best friends, Ray and Norman, stumble upon a horrifying secret that changes their lives forever.

The animation is wonderfully done and the characters are so cute. You sometimes forget it's a dark show until they introduce something terrifying. Overall, the plot is really well developed and flows in a way that keeps you wanting more.

9. Jujutsu Kaisen

Yuji and his classmates walking forward with intense concentration
MAPPA / Crunchyroll / Viz Media / JNN / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: comedy, supernatural, action

Jujutsu Kaisen is set in a world where cursed spirits feed on unsuspecting humans, and fragments of the legendary and feared demon, Ryomen Sukuna, have been lost. Should any cursed spirit consume Sukuna's body parts, the power they gain could destroy the world as we know it. Yuji Itadori, a high school student with above-average ability, devours one of Sukuna's fingers and is pulled into the strange and dangerous world of curses.

The animation is beautifully done, the action scenes are incredible and balanced with humor to ease the tension, and the characters are really well-written.

10. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Kaguya and Miyuki looking at each other with weapons hidden behind them
A-1 Pictures / Aniplex of America / Tokyo MX / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: romcoms, psychological thrillers, the anticipation of two characters falling for each other

Confessing your feelings to someone is one of the most intimidating challenges you might face, and Kaguya-sama: Love is War takes this fear to the extreme. If anything, it proves how far we'd go to not get rejected, even if the other person might feel the same way.

In this story, Kaguya Shinomiya is the wealthy heir to a corporate enterprise, a prodigy, and student council vice president. Miyuki Shirogane comes from a much more humble background, is the top of his class, and the student council president. The two are hopelessly in love with each other, but with their inflated egos and fear of rejection, they use their intellect for schemes in a battle of who will confess first.

11. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Alphonse and Elric looking into the distance with a serious expression
Bones / Aniplex of America / JNN / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: fantasy, thriller, action, comedy

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood follows the journey of two brothers, Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric, in their search for the Philosopher's Stone. They need the stone to heal themselves after a failed attempt to revive their deceased mother leaves them in damaged physical forms.

There are two versions of this anime: Full Metal Alchemist from 2003 and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood from 2009. While both are well done, the 2003 version is much more light-hearted, while the 2009 series is more serious (though still light-hearted) and closely adapted to the manga.

12. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Mami guiding the way followed by Sayaka and Madoka
Shaft / Aniplex of America / JNN / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: magical girls, dark fantasy, plot twists

Madoka Kanome is your typical middle schooler whose life turns around when she encounters Kyubey, a magical being who offers to grant any wish in exchange for dedicating the rest of one's life to battle witches, magical beings whose souls have been tainted by darkness.

Madoka Magica takes a more mature approach to the typical magical girl genre β€” think of it as a dark story with a cute exterior. The visuals are also very interesting as the witches are styled with a sort of mixed medium art while the rest of the world maintains the typical anime format.

13. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Jinta and his friends gathered around spending time with each other with the memory of their childhood selves behind them
A-1 Pictures / Aniplex of America / Fuji TV / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: drama, romance, coming-of-age stories

Jinta "Jintan" Yadomi and his group of childhood friends have become estranged after their friend, Meiko "Menma" Honma, died in an accident. Now in their high school years, the sudden appearance of Menma's ghost forces them to reunite, confront their guilt over what happened that day, and fulfill her dying wish.

Anohana can be a bit of a tear-jerker, but it's refreshing to see characters who aren't exaggerated emotionally.

14. Erased

Satoru waving goodbye to Kayo in the cold
A-1 Pictures / Aniplex of America / Fuji TV / Via crunchyroll.com

Watch if you enjoy: mystery, drama, suspense

If you could turn back time and do things differently, would it really change the future? Erased follows the story of Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old aspiring manga artist with the ability to travel backward in time to prevent terrible things from happening. After the murder of a loved one, he is launched back in time to 1988, where he's 11 years old, to prevent the tragedy from taking place.

The way the plot emerges in the first episode is instantly engaging. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, eagerly anticipating the next episode.

15. Aggretsuko

Aggretsuko screams to death metal karaoke with Gori and Washimi dancing behind her
Fanworks / Netflix / Via netflix.com

Watch if you enjoy: Sanrio, comedy, workplace satire, cute animals

Aggretsuko brings to life the frustrations of being an adult through a cute red panda named Restuko. Each episode centers around Retsuko's day-to-day life as a 25-year-old accountant at a Japanese trading firm.

To deal with everything from misogyny and workplace anxiety to the parental pressure of settling down, Retsuko vents her emotions through death metal at the local karaoke bar. It's amusingly relatable for today's millennials with the added charm of Sanrio.

Do you have a favorite on the list? What other anime would you recommend for newbies? Let us know in the comments below!

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BuzzFeed / Kathy Hoang

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