Anime Recommendations for Beginners!

Louis Volker, Staff Reporter

Whether it’s more free time during the COVID-19 pandemic, social media trends or the increasing number of shows available on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, there’s no denying anime has become increasingly popular in American pop culture the past few years. 

There are a lot of options out there, and it can be difficult to decide what to watch when you’re being bombarded with thousands of different shows to choose from. Hopefully, this list will help you find a good place to start, whether you like romance, action, horror or anything in between.

1. If you want to try something iconic that every anime fan has seen, try the Naruto universe.

Image | IMDb

This massive franchise, which consists of the original show Naruto, its follow-up Naruto: Shippuden, several movies and a sequel series following the protagonist’s son, Boruto: Next Generations (which is still running) is one of the most iconic anime series of all time. Setting the standard for the Shounen genre, anime typically aimed at adolescents and filled with action, this is probably one of the first things that come to mind when someone mentions anime. 

The series follows young Naruto Uzumaki as he trains to be the best ninja in his village and become the Hokage, or more commonly known as the leader of the village, so that he can finally gain respect from his community. His peers have treated him like an outsider after a demon that attacked the village was sealed inside of him. With lovable characters, intricate world building, and over 700 episodes and counting, this anime is sure to capture your attention and be your next binge-watch.


2. If you’d like something more on the vintage side, go for Sailor Moon.

Image | IMDb

This series is a staple in the anime community, releasing episodes from 1991-1997. Created by Naoko Takeuchi, this show does a great job highlighting themes of women empowerment and LGBT+ inclusivity, making them central to the plot instead of just adding them to be performative. 

This series follows schoolgirl Usagi Tsukino who is secretly the titular Sailor Moon who, along with the rest of the Sailor Scouts, battles villains to defend the solar system. A visual masterpiece, Sailor Moon is one of those shows that will have you obsessed without realizing it. 



3. If you’d like something popular that’s trending today, watch My Hero Academia.

Image | TV Guide

Also called Boku no Hīrō Akademia, MHA is an exciting high school superhero anime with complex villains and a dedicated fanbase. Creator Kohei Horikoshi was inspired by western depictions of superheroes, resulting in a smash hit in America. Season 5 will be released in April 2021. 

The show follows Izuku Midoriya, a boy who lives in a world where superpowers, referred to as quirks, and superheroes are commonplace in society. With an endearing protagonist and a great ensemble of characters, you’re sure to enjoy this fun but suspenseful series. 



4. If you need something dramatic or want to find your new comfort character, watch Haikyu!!.

Image | IMDb

This anime is a sensational volleyball sport drama that has also been hugely successful, spawning a surprisingly entertaining stage play and potential live action production. The season four finale recently aired, with a fifth season already confirmed. 

The plot follows a boy named Shōyō Hinata who loves volleyball and is inspired by the Little Giant, spiker that’s short like him playing at nationals for Karasuno High School. After losing badly in his first match against talented setter Tobio Kageyama, he vows to defeat him and starts high school at Karasuno, but discovers that Kageyama has also been transferred to play there. With  an array of distinctly unique characters, electrifyingly suspenseful gameplay and great humor, Haikyu!! is my absolute favorite show so far. 

5. If you’re looking for something that seems goofy on the outside but is actually surprisingly dark, consider watching Hunter x Hunter (2011).

Image | IMDb

Created by Yoshihiro Togashi (husband to the creator of Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi) back in 1998, there have been two anime installments of the manga, with one series airing in 1999 and the recommended series airing in 2011. I recommend this version because it has more episodes and follows the plot of the manga more closely, which could be useful if you’d like to get into reading it. Hunter x Hunter is a fun adventure series that also has a dark side, with bone-chilling villains and deep backstories for each character. 

This one follows 12-year-old Gon Freecs and his friends Killua, Kurapika and Leorio as they try to pass the Hunter Exam and become hunters, elite members of society who track people, beasts and treasures. This show tells the dark story through the lens of a fun, adventurous 12-year-old, giving it an interesting perspective.

6. Finally, if you’d like to try a horror anime, I recommend Attack on Titan  to newcomers.

Image | IMDb

Created in 2006 by Hajime Isayama, the first episode of AOT aired in 2013 and has been a huge success ever since it first came out. Its 4th and final season recently began airing, creating a lot of buzz. When episode one of season four was first released on the popular streaming app Crunchyroll, millions of people flocked to watch, temporarily causing the site to crash. 

This show tells the story of Eren Yeager, a boy who vows to defeat every titan, giant man-eating humanoids, in existence after they breached the walls that once protected his town and took his mother. With amazingly detailed art style and a heartbreaking musical score, this series is unafraid to take risks with its plot and character arcs, and it pays off big time. Fans of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are sure to love this heart wrenching series.